Forty-four Iraqi parliamentarians submitted on Monday their resignation in the wake of bloody clashes between the Iraqi security forces and protesters in Al-Ramadi, the capital of Al-Anbar Governorate in the south of the country.
The parliamentarians, who are from the "United for Reform" bloc, explained that they are protesting against the "violent dispersal" of an anti-government protest camp first set up in the main street of Al-Ramadi one year ago after security forces arrested more than one hundred personal guards of Rafie Al-Essawi, a Sunni former finance minister.
"This is not a war against the army, and it is not a war by Sunnis against Shiites," they said in a press conference; "this is a war against political franchises".
The MPs are demanding for the army to withdraw from the streets of the two main cities in Al-Anbar Governorate: Al-Ramadi and Al-Falluja. They also asked for the release of MP Ahmed Al-Alwani, who was arrested on Saturday during the dispersal of the protests.
Sectarian tensions have been escalating in Iraq, with critics accusing the Shiite-led government of behaving increasingly authoritarian and intolerant of dissent.
France 24 website quoted the following statement by MP Zafer Al-Ani: "This is the prime minister's war, and it is outside national restrictions, as well as the limits of the law."
He noted that, "the nation's partnership with the prime minister has become tenuous." He also called for Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, as the leader of the armed forces, to immediately withdraw the army from the streets.
More than ten Iraqis were killed when gun battles erupted in the wake of the crackdown against the anti-government protests on Saturday.