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Iraq PM gives ministers 100 days to shape up

From Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
Nuri al-Maliki called an emergency cabinet meeting after anti-government protests across Iraq left 13 people dead.
Nuri al-Maliki called an emergency cabinet meeting after anti-government protests across Iraq left 13 people dead.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: There will be an assessment in 100 days, and "changes"
  • Nuri al-Maliki says cabinet members could lose their jobs if they don't deliver results
  • The emergency cabinet meeting follows protests that left 13 dead

Baghdad (CNN) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave government ministers 100 days to deliver results and eliminate corruption or be fired, the government announced after an emergency cabinet meeting Sunday.

The announcement follows weeks of demonstrations across the country by protesters angry about unemployment, poor basic services, corruption and a lack of freedom. At least 13 people died in protests Friday.

The prime minister said Sunday there would be investigations into the deaths to determine who started the violence.

The work of every ministry will be assessed after 100 days, al-Maliki vowed.

"Changes will be made based on these assessments," he warned.

Since early February, thousands of protesters have participated in a series of demonstrations across the country, apparently inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia.

On Saturday, protesters in Samarra defied curfew to attend the funerals of two people killed during protests there, chanting "God is great" and "Down with the government."

Security forces battled some of the protesters and later opened fire to disperse the crowd, wounding at least eight, police said.

Iraqi security forces need to use the maximum possible restraint in dealing with protesters
--Tom Porteous, Human Rights Watch
RELATED TOPICS
  • Iraq
  • Nuri al-Maliki
  • Baghdad

Demonstrators attacked the city council building and set it on fire in Kubaisa, a small town in Anbar province west of Baghdad, police said.

In Basra, mourners also held a funeral procession Saturday for a protester killed the day before.

Ali Ghaim al-Maliki, the head of Basra's security council, told reporters Saturday that at least 71 people were wounded in Friday's clashes -- including 51 security forces and 20 anti-government protesters.

Most of the injuries in the city, located about 550 kilometers (342 miles) south of Baghdad, occurred during fighting with stones and batons, he said.

In several cities, police said security forces fired at crowds of protesters to disperse them. In Tikrit, police said two protesters were killed and 17 others were wounded during the clashes. In Samarra, two people were killed and seven protesters were injured, police said.

Police said five other demonstrators were killed in the cities of Mosul and Hawijah. Unrest also flared in Baghdad, Falluja, Ramadi and in two towns in the province of Salaheddin.

In a statement released Friday, Human Rights Watch called on Iraqi authorities to investigate the deaths of demonstrators.

"The Iraqi authorities need to rein in their security forces and account for every single killing," said Tom Porteous, the organization's deputy program director. "The security forces need to use the maximum possible restraint in dealing with protesters."

Prime Minister al-Maliki had urged citizens not to participate in Friday's planned massive protests, claiming former members of Saddam Hussein's regime and terrorists were plotting to take advantage of the demonstrations to create chaos in the country.

The Iraqi government was formed in December, nine months after an inconclusive national election. This is the second elected government in the nearly eight years after a U.S.-led invasion toppled Hussein.

 
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