Maliki Backs Off 100-Day Threat

Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has backed down from a threat to fire poorly-performing cabinet ministers, a move which potentially opens the door to renewed popular protests in the country this summer, according to Al Jazeera.

On February 27, Maliki gave his cabinet a 100-day deadline to improve basic services after a string of anti-government protests across the country.

He promised to assess their progress at the end of that period, and warned that "changes will be made" at failing ministries.

That deadline expired on Tuesday, and it appears that Maliki has largely retreated from his threat, asking instead for patience and more time to solve problems. There were no apparent shake-ups in Iraqi politics.

"There are those who want to confuse the concept of this programme," Maliki said in an address on state television on Monday night. "They want to push people to force ministers to be accountable for a few things that naturally should take more time."

Maliki praised what he called short-term progress such as new construction projects which have sprung up across Iraq. "Each minister has a four-year plan and will explain the track they want to follow in the next 100 days," he said.

But it is unclear whether these modest reforms will head off further demonstrations. A protest has already been called against the government for Friday afternoon in Baghdad, the capital.

At least 25 people, including five U.S. soldiers, were killed in attacks in Baghdad and Tikrit, CNN reports.

(Sources: Al Jazeera, UPI, CNN)

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