More join Nineveh governorship race as council extends deadline

Officials close to the former governor embezzled close to $64 million in public funds, the Iraqi integrity commission said on Monday.

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The number of candidates vying for the governorship of Nineveh province has reached 35, with office seekers given another week to contend for the post, a party official said on Tuesday.

In mid-April, the Nineveh Provincial Council (NPC) opened the nomination process after incumbent governor Nawfal al-Akub was sacked and an arrest warrant issued against him by the Federal Government of Iraq following the Mosul ferry sinking that killed over 100 people.

“Thus far, 35 people have nominated themselves for the governorship post,” Ali Khalil, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Nineveh, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday. Khalil added that the NPC extended the application deadline by eight days to May 2.

The NPC consists of 39 seats, three of which are reserved for minority groups. The Brotherhood and Coexistence is the largest bloc with 11 seats, followed by Mutahidoon’s eight seats.

In Nineveh, while the governorship is reserved for an Arab candidate, its first deputy – who was also fired along with Akub – is reserved for a Kurd, according to a power-sharing tradition. On May 2, the nomination process for the governor’s two deputies will begin, Khalil said.

The sacking of Akub along with multiple officials came amid a massive corruption scandal in the province, which faced near-total destruction at the hands of the Islamic State and the subsequent expulsion thereof by the Iraqi security forces.

Late March, a local source in Mosul, the provincial capital, told Kurdistan 24 that the Integrity Commission had arrested several officials in the city on corruption charges.

On April 11, the body announced they had arrested 14 officials on charges of embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds.

The commission said on Monday that officials close to Akub had embezzled over 76 billion Iraqi dinars (about $64 million) in public funds as wire transfers or deposits into personal bank accounts. About $37 million of the total amount was dedicated to rebuilding Mosul.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany