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Saturday 1 October 2016

Iraqi PM vows to tackle corruption after protests

Zaid Sabah Baghdad

Published 10/08/2015 | 02:30

An Iraqi federal police officer watches as protesters chant
anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, on Friday
An Iraqi federal police officer watches as protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, on Friday

Iraqi prime minister Haidar Al-Abadi, backed by the nation's top Shiite cleric, has vowed to investigate corruption and proposed abolishing key government posts in a move that will test his authority in the fractured country.

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Mr Abadi, in a seven-point plan that has to be ratified by parliament, said the positions of vice presidents and deputy prime ministers should be eliminated immediately as part of a push to tackle corruption.

Nouri al- Maliki, Mr Abadi's predecessor and one of the three vice-presidents, has said he supports the plan, which was also approved by the cabinet.

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets on Friday to protest at what they describe as widespread corruption in OPEC's second-biggest producer.

While the plunge in oil prices and the battle against Isil militants are depleting the government's coffers, many Iraqis say corruption is compounding the nation's economic woes.

"Abadi chose the right time to take these decisions," Hameed Fayad, a political science professor in Baghdad University, said. "The real battle will be in parliament in the coming weeks, but in the end, the religious authority and people's word will have the upper hand."

Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, urged the prime minister to tackle corruption and fire any official "who tries to hinder reform."

Irish Independent

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