Thousands Protest in Iraq’s Sunni Strongholds

Posted December 23rd, 2011 at 3:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Several thousand Iraqis in Sunni Muslim regions have taken to the streets to protest against Shi'ite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Friday's protests took place a day after at least 69 people were killed in a wave of bombings across Baghdad. The demonstrations have also come on the heels of a growing political crisis involving Mr. Maliki and Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi.

On Monday, the Shi'ite-led government issued an arrest warrant for Hashemi on accusations of terrorism for his alleged role in plots to kill Iraqi officials. Hashemi has denied the charges.

Earlier, Mr. Maliki had called for a no-confidence vote in parliament against Deputy Prime Minister Salem al-Mutlaq, another Sunni politician.

The political turmoil is straining relations between Iraq's power-sharing Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish leaders.

In the wake of Thursday's bombings, parliament had called for an urgent session on Friday. However, the session was abruptly cancelled, without explanation.