Iraqi Communication Minister Resigns Over 'Political Interference'

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Iraq's communications minister has resigned to protest interference by Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki in the work of his ministry.

Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a member of the Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah bloc, said on August 27 that he had sent a letter to Maliki in July, demanding that he stop meddling in his ministry, reinstate some officials he ordered transferred, or accept his resignation.

Allawi told The Associated Press that the prime minister's reply was to accept his resignation instead of meeting the demands.

Communications Ministry spokesman Samir al-Hasoon told the AFP news agency that the ministry had received official documentation confirming Allawi's resignation. He will be replaced on an interim basis by current minister of state for provincial affairs Torhan al-Mufti, a Turkoman politician from the Sunni-backed Al-Iraqiyah bloc.

Allawi, a member of the Al-Iraqiyah bloc, was part of the national unity government formed in 2010.

Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, a leading member of Al-Iraqiyah, is meanwhile on trial in absentia, accused of plotting and financing death squads aimed at assassinating Shi'ite officials.

Maliki's support of the prosecution led Al-Iraqiyah to boycott cabinet meetings for more than a month, bringing the government to a standstill.

They accused the prime minister, a Shi'a, of trying to marginalize the country's minority Sunni community.

In separate development on August 27, gunmen shot dead an army general outside Baghdad.

Officials said border forces Brigadier General Abdul-Muhsen Khaza was gunned down in the Sunni town of Taji, just north of capital.

Two civilians died and six were wounded in separate attacks elsewhere in the country.

A roadside bomb apparently aimed for a police patrol killed one person and wounded another in the northern city of Mosul.

A bomb blast in the town of Haditha killed one civilian and injured at least three soldiers.

Violence has significantly decreased in Iraq recently, but attacks are still common across the country.

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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