44 Iraqi lawmakers resign over anti-Sunnis government actions

Baghdad, Dec 31: As many as 44 members of Iraqi parliament announced their resignation Monday to protest against the government’s latest moves on Sunni Arabs, including the demolition of a protest site and the arrest of a Sunni parliamentarian in the Anbar province.

The parliamentarian from the Sunni Motahidoon (United) Alliance also sought army’s withdrawal from cities in the Anbar province and the release of Ahmad al-Alwani, a Sunni lawmaker who was arrested Saturday, reported Xinhua citing the bloc’s spokesperson Dhafer al-Ani in a televised press conference.

The resignations came just hours after clashes broke out Monday when Iraqi police dismantled an anti- government protest site outside Anbar’s provincial capital city of Ramadi, police and medics said.

Hundreds of gunmen and angry demonstrators fought with the army and police forces in the cities of Ramadi, Fallujah and other areas in the province, a provincial police source said, adding at least two tanks and several military vehicles were burned by the clashes.

At least 10 people have been killed and some 40 wounded so far in the clashes, a medical source from Ramadi hospital said, adding that the toll could rise as ambulances and all vehicles were not able to evacuate the casualties to hospitals due to the fierce clashes which blocked the roads.

In the morning, the state-run Iraqia channel said that “local police in cooperation with the provincial authorities in Anbar removed the tents from the protest site near Ramadi.”

The move came after an agreement was reached between the security forces and the provincial officials, religious and tribal leaders, the channel said.

Tension has been running high in the Sunni heartland of Anbar after the Iraqi security forces captured Sunni Arab tribal leader and parliamentarian Ahmad al-Alwani and killed his brother.

The Sunnis have been carrying out a year-long protest, accusing the Shiite-led government of marginalising them and its Shiite- dominated security forces of indiscriminately arresting, torturing, and killing their sons.

IANS