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Iraqi PM Orders Electricity Minister to Quit Over Power Contracts

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki (file photo)

Iraqi officials say Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has ordered his electricity minister to step down because of irregularities in the awarding of contracts to improve Iraq's power supply.

The officials said Sunday that Electricity Minister Raad Shalal approved contracts worth $1.7 billion for Canadian company Capgent and German company MBH despite the two firms failing to meet Iraqi standards for power suppliers.

The officials also said Iraq's parliament must approve Prime Minister Maliki's order for Shalal to step down.

Shalal is a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya party, a key faction in Maliki's Shi'ite-led coalition government. Iraqiya often has accused Maliki of not living up to a power-sharing deal among Iraq's main Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs.

Iraq's government has been trying to attract foreign investors to develop new power plants and ease chronic electricity shortages.

The shortages have hampered Iraq's ability to rebuild its economy after years of war.

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

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