BAGHDAD Iraqi Sunni Muslim and Kurdish ministers boycotted a cabinet session on Tuesday to show support for protests that threaten Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's fragile cross-sectarian government, lawmakers and a government source said.
Thousands of protesters have demonstrated and blocked a key highway in Iraq's Sunni provinces for more than two weeks to challenge Maliki, a leader many Sunnis feel has marginalised their community a year after the last U.S. troops pulled out.
Sunni-backed Iraqiya party lawmakers said their ministers stayed away from the cabinet in support of the protests sparked in late December when security forces arrested bodyguards of Sunni Finance Minister Rafaie al-Esawi.
"They made a decision to boycott the session today," Iraqiya lawmaker Jaber al-Jaberi told Reuters. "They don't see a response from the government to the demands of the protesters... or to accepting power-sharing."
Alaa Talabani, a Kurdish lawmaker, said party leaders had also asked Kurdish ministers to stay away. A senior government source at the meeting confirmed Sunni and Kurdish ministers had missed the Council of Ministers session.
Violence and bombings are down sharply since the height of Iraq's conflict, but the government, split among majority Shi'ites, minority Sunnis and ethnic Kurds, has been deadlocked over power-sharing since it was formed in December 2010.
(Reporting by Patrick Markey, Aseel Kami and Raheem Salman; Editing by Alistair Lyon)
Trending On Reuters
Nineteen people were killed and 25 wounded after an attack by a knife-wielding man at a facility for the disabled in central Japan early on Tuesday, a government official said, in Japan's worst mass killing in decades. Full Article
- Turkey detains 42 journalists in crackdown as Europe sounds alarm
- Sanders backers revolt on raucous opening day at U.S. Democratic convention
- U.N. body overturns rejection, accredits press freedom watchdog
- Nine militants killed in police raid in Bangladesh
- After Nepal prime minister goes, China says hopes for stability