Iraq finance minister resigns amid protests


Iraqi Sunni Muslims visit the al-Ghazali cemetery in Baghdad on the first day of Eid al-Adha on October 26, 2012.



Iraq's finance minister resigned Friday in front of crowds of Sunni Muslim demonstrators who have been protesting the Shiite-led government for more than two months.

Rafaie al-Esawi said he was leaving his post because the government had not met the demands of protesters who had called for an end to what they considered to be second-class treatment, reported CNN.

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"I am with you, I am your son," Esawi said in a speech in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, according to Bloomberg. "I will not return to this government," he told demonstrators. "We are with you," they chanted in response.

The protests have reignited concerns that the sectarian conflict in Syria will push Iraq toward another Sunni-Shiite battle, similar to the one in 2006 and 2007, reported Reuters.

"More than 70 days of demonstrations and this government hasn't fulfilled our people's demands," Esawi told Reuters. "It doesn't honor me to be part of a sectarian government. I decided to stay with my people."

According to CNN, protesters were also demanding that detainees they said were being held without charges be released, saying the government was corrupt and that it was unfairly targeting Sunni people.