Iraqi PM asks Parliament to remove Governor after Mosul ferry capsizing incident
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Friday called on Parliament to remove the Nineveh Governor, Nawfal al-Akub, in response to a tragic incident which saw a ferry capsize, hurling passengers into the Tigris River, killing over 90 people.
In a letter released by the office of the Prime Minister, Abdul-Mahdi related his request to “the negligence and ignorance evident in the performance of duty and responsibility.”
“The existence of proof in the investigation show the waste of public funds and exploitation of the position,” he continued.
According to the Constitution of Iraq, the parliament can remove a governor by an absolute majority at the request of the Prime Minister. The constitution also requires deputies to be removed along with the dismissal of the governor.
The ferry sank on Thursday afternoon as it was transporting people to a man-made island resort on the Tigris River in what has been described as the worst single disaster to strike the embattled city of Mosul since it was retaken from the Islamic State in 2017.
Residents of Mosul took to the streets on Friday and demanded the ouster of the provincial governor, long accused by locals of corrupt dealings within his administration.
Mosul’s residents have lived through the sluggish recovery of the destruction wreaked by the Islamic State and the battle against them by the Iraqi Army and US-led coalition, which included mass aerial bombardments on large parts of the city. The city’s residents were dismissive of official statements that followed the accident, some of which demanded that companies and others deemed criminally negligent in the accident be brought to justice.
On Friday, protesters forced the Nineveh Governor and Iraqi President, Barham Salih, to leave the area by hurling stones at their convoys as the politicians attempted to make public appearances following the tragedy.
As his car sped off from the crowd, Governor Aakub’s vehicle reportedly struck and injured two people who were then rushed to the hospital. This, along with a snapshot of him smiling on TV as he stood next to Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi in a press conference during a visit to victims of the incident, appears to have sparked outrage, both for what social media users described as his “insensitivity” to the situation and the existing widespread allegations of corruption.
To assess the situation, the Nineveh Provincial Council (NPC) held an extraordinary session early Friday, during which they ruled to dismiss the provincial health director, Falah Taii, under whom the region’s dilapidated infrastructure has reportedly remained ill-equipped to handle the rescue of civilians in such incidents.
On Friday, Iraqi Deputy Parliament Speaker Bashir Haddad visited Mosul and met with local authorities.
“There had been serious violations in the lead-up to the incident,” Haddad told Kurdistan 24 on Friday evening during a live broadcast interview.
“The ferry’s loading capacity was for 50 people, maximum, but they carried over 200 people. They were not providing life vests to passengers. They were meant to conduct regular checks on the ferries every few months, but they didn’t do that either.”
Editing by Nadia Riva