Baghdad: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
on Wednesday accepted the resignation of his besieged electricity
minister who had been the target of public fury and protests
over draconian power rationing.
Karim Wahid offered to quit on Monday and Maliki backed
him 24 hours later, saying he remained the best person to
solve the problem despite angry weekend demonstrations in the
southern city of Basra where police shot two men dead.
However, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed
"It is correct that Electricity Minister Karim Wahid`s
resignation has been accepted," Dabbagh said, saying Oil
Minister Hussein al-Shahristani was being considered as a
"There is a chance that he might but it is not yet
decided," Dabbagh said of Shahristani`s chances of taking on
the electricity portfolio.
Maliki warned Iraqis yesterday that two more years of
power shortages lay ahead as there was no quick fix to the
issue, which worsened dramatically in the wake of the US-led
invasion of the country in 2003.
"The electricity problem cannot be over in one or two
days," the prime minister said, insisting that capacity would
"The power stations being built by Siemens and GE will
take two years to complete at least," he said, referring to
the German and US engineering giants who are heavily involved
in bolstering Iraq`s inadequate power network.
Maliki described as "rioters" the hundreds of men who
took to the streets of Basra on Saturday in heat that hit
highs of 54 degrees Celsius (130 degrees Fahrenheit).
Police opened fire after the protesters smashed the
windows of a provincial government office. Two demonstrators
were killed, a health official said today, updating an earlier