Iraqi Sunni official announces resignation

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s Sunni finance minister drew cheers from antigovernment protesters Friday when he announced he will resign from the government.

The move further intensifies the country’s political crisis nearly a decade after the US-led invasion.

Elsewhere on Friday, officials said a Russian-made rocket fired from Syria exploded well inside Iraqi territory.


The rocket’s detonation is likely to heighten worries that violence from Syria’s civil war could extend across the border.

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Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi’s decision to leave marks the first resignation of a senior Sunni member of the Shi’ite-led government since a wave of antigovernment protests began following the December arrest of his bodyguards on suspicion of terrorism-related activities.

Sunnis’ feelings of perceived discrimination by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government are fueling the anger of demonstrators who are happy that Issawi ended his association with the Maliki administration.

‘‘I am presenting my resignation in front of you. I do not care about a government that does not respect the Iraqi blood and its people,’’ Issawi told thousands gathered in the western city of Ramadi, the epicenter of the demonstrations.

The protesters cheered in approval.


The resignation, however, has to be formally endorsed by Maliki, leaving Issawi’s status in government unclear for now.

Associated Press