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Iraqi Finance Minister Resigns in Front of Protesters in Anbar

March 1 (Bloomberg) -- Iraqi Finance Minister Rafih al-Issawi, one of the most senior Sunni Muslims in the Shiite Muslim-led government, announced his resignation at an anti-government rally, heightening political tensions.

“I am with you, I am your son,” Issawi said in a speech in Ramadi, west of Baghdad, aired live on local television today. “I will not return to this government,” Issawi told demonstrators. “We are with you,” they chanted in response.

Demonstrations have spread to eight regions in Iraq to demand that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki share more power. Protests began in part because of the arrest of Issawi’s security guards on terrorism charges in December.

State television quoted Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s office as saying the resignation would not be accepted until an investigation was complete.

Issawi, who survived an assassination attempt Jan. 13, has said that Maliki was responsible for the arrest of his security team by what he called a “militia.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Zaid Sabah Abd Alhamid in Washington at zalhamid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net

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