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Iraqi minister resigns after electricity protests

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Minister Karim Waheed reads his resignation letter on state television
  • Protesters upset about lack of electricity
  • Demonstrators tried to storm city council in Nasiriya
  • One protester killed, two injured over the weekend in Basra
  • Iraq
  • Basra

(CNN) -- Iraq's minister of electricity resigned Monday, following protests in southern Iraq over a lack of electricity.

Karim Waheed read his resignation letter on state television.

The move follows weekend protests in the southern city of Basra that left one Iraqi dead and two others injured. The protests over the lack of electricity continued Monday, when hundreds of Nasiriya city residents demonstrated in front of the Nasiriya provincial council.

Maj. Gen. Sabah Al-Fatlawi, chief of Nasiriya police, told CNN that at least 16 of the security forces at the demonstration were wounded when the demonstrators threw stones and tried to enter the provincial council.

Al-Fatlawi said that the violence erupted while a delegation of protesters was inside the provincial council presenting demands, and demonstrators started throwing stones and tried to storm the city council. The security forces managed to keep them out.

Before resigning, Waheed said that since he took over the ministry in 2006, there has been an increase in power output. He blamed the continuous shortages on a number of factors, including an increase in the demand for electricity, compared with previous years.

"All these things (solutions) require patience from Iraqis, but Iraqis have been very patient and this issue has been seriously politicized with the latest events," Waheed said. "The ministry of electricity is not a part of this, it is an independent ministry with a professional and independent minister, and all this contributed to increased pressure on the ministry. Everyone knows that I submitted my letter of resignation to the prime minister today to take pressure off the ministry."

Monday was the second day of demonstrations in Nasiriya, following the Basra demonstrations Saturday.

CNN's Yousif Bassil contributed to this report.