Iraq PM sets 100 day deadline for gov after protests

Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:39pm GMT

By Muhanad Mohammed

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave his ministers on Sunday a 100 day ultimatum to step up reforms or face the sack after nationwide protests against corruption and poor basic services.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets on Friday to protest against shortages of electricity, food rations and jobs, and called for some provincial officials to step down.

Politicians, who have already tried to appease citizens by diverting money from fighter jets to food, giving out free power and cutting their own pay, were quick to act after Friday's "Day of Rage" when at least 10 people died and scores were wounded.

On Sunday, the governor of southern Babil province Salman al-Zarqani resigned, while parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi called for a new provincial vote within three to four months.

Provincial elections were held in 2009 and are not due before 2013.

Maliki, who secured a second term in office late last year, told his cabinet that officials who failed to respond to the demands of Iraqis within the 100 day deadline would be fired.

"We will set 100 days to decide the success or failure of the ministry or the province in quickly responding to the processes of building, reconstruction and reforms," Maliki told his cabinet in an urgent meeting on Sunday.

"I find myself obliged to ask for a change in implemented laws, ministers, deputies, governors, managers and inspectors if it is proved they are not capable of responding to the call of duty and to people's demands," he added.   Continued...

<p>Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi speaks during a news conference in Baghdad February 27, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammed Ameen</p>
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