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Iraqi PM Accepts Electricity Minister's Resignation

Government spokesman confirms Karim Waheed's resignation has been accepted, but says his replacement has not yet been chosen

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has accepted the resignation of his electricity minister, as protests against power shortages have spread across Iraq.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed Wednesday that Karim Waheed's resignation had been accepted, but said his replacement had not yet been chosen.

Al-Dabbagh said current oil minister Hussain al-Shahristani was a contender, and that the prime minister's new candidate could be announced later Wednesday.

Waheed said he was stepping down Monday as public anger with his electricity ministry increased with continuing power shortages in the face of temperatures soaring to 50 degrees Celsius. Protests turned violent in the southern cities of Basra and Nasiriyah, killing two protesters and wounding more than 20 police officers and civilians.

Prime Minister Maliki has said it will likely be another two years before the power shortages can be fixed.

Waheed said the demonstrations have been politicized "by all sides." He said his attempts to fix the power grid were undermined by a lack of funding and fuel, along with what he called the "excessive expectations" of impatient Iraqis.

The electricity crisis has been an ongoing problem since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that led to the ousting of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Electric service in Iraq is limited to less than six hours a day, making air conditioning and refrigeration available only to those who can afford their own generators.

The violence has highlighted growing anger over the lack of basic services throughout Iraq.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.