PM says corruption ‘distorts’ Iraq’s image and reputation, calls for its eradication
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s Prime Minister, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, affirmed on Monday that widespread corruption in the country must be brought to an end as it “distorts the image of the state” and its reputation, both locally and on the world stage.
Iraq has one of the world’s largest oil reserves, and it is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
The country, however, continues to rank high on Transparency International’s list for corruption, fraud, and mismanagement of state institutions, some of the most significant challenges facing the country since the fall of the former regime.
According to the organization’s 2017 Corruption Index, Iraq ranks 169th, the eleventh most corrupt country out of a total 180.
The current Iraqi federal government headed by Abdul-Mahdi is tasked with rebuilding the country after three years of war against the Islamic State (IS), combating corruption, and providing better public services to the people.
The government, which was formed on Oct. 25, 2018, has not yet taken any effective steps to fight corruption, facing enormous political challenges, especially among major parliamentary blocs impeding the formation of the cabinet.
On Monday, Abdul-Mahdi held the first meeting with the Supreme Anti-Corruption Council since taking office in late October.
The Council had held multiple meetings in 2018, but a limited number of small corruption cases have been addressed.
Abdul-Mahdi stated that the objective of the Council is to take preventative measures and unify efforts to combat corruption by any party or person, regardless of their post, according to his press office.
He said his government would work to “uncover corruption and protect society, Iraqi citizens, and public money.”
The meeting was held in the presence of the heads of the public prosecution, the Judicial Supervision Authority, the Financial Control Bureau, the Integrity Commission, the Inspector General of the Ministry of Interior, as well as a number of advisors.
“The Supreme Council for Combating Corruption should have the necessary administrative and legal powers over corruption cases and be aware of all the details, as well as be alerted of issues that result in corruption,” the Iraqi premier affirmed.
He noted that corruption “has been distorting the image of the [Iraqi] state and society, and the reputation of its citizens in general.”
He continued, “We must put an end to it and consider corruption as an enemy, as we have Da’esh terrorists.”
Over the past few months, the country, namely the central and southern provinces of Iraq, has witnessed regular protests against poor public services, power outages, the lack of clean water, and high unemployment.
Editing by Nadia Riva