Baghdad: Leader of a country that regularly
suffers deadly attacks, Nuri al-Maliki joked on Sunday that while
Iraq needed to unleash the explosive energy of its people, he
did not mean "like a car bomb".
Marking the end of an agreement with Washington that
allowed US troops to be stationed in the country, Iraq`s prime
minister said that though the task of rebuilding would be
difficult, he believed there was "energy in our people".
"We have to work to explode this energy," Maliki said
during a speech at Baghdad`s Al-Rasheed hotel, in the
capital`s heavily-fortified Green Zone.
"I do not mean, by exploding, to explode it like a car
bomb," he added, before smiling.
Figures released today showed that while violence was
markedly down from its peak in 2006 and 2007, when Iraq was in
the throes of a sectarian war, 2,645 people were still killed
in attacks last year.
On December 22, more than a dozen attacks in Baghdad
itself killed 60 people in the worst violence to strike the
country in more than four months.
US forces withdrew from Iraq on December 18, and
yesterday, a bilateral security pact between the two countries
that allowed American troops to be stationed in Iraq expired.