Iraq legislators berate government

Iraq's government has faced a barrage of questions in parliament on everything from the fate of billions of dollars in donor pledges to garbage collection.

    Life is getting increasingly difficult for Iraqis

    Reading long lists of complaints, National Assembly members on Monday were often cut short by the deputy speaker, because they were taking too long to air grievances in the session televised live.

    "None of this money is on the ground," said Faris Rajgari, referring to billions of dollars that countries have pledged for Iraq's reconstruction.

    Poor services

    Iraq's troubles reach beyond the almost daily bombings, shootings and kidnappings that make headlines.

    Electricity shortages mean many people endure blistering summer heat, which can rise above 50 degrees centigrade, with no air conditioning.

    Iraqi hospitals lack equipment

    and medicine

    With violence scaring away investors and driving up unemployment, Iraqis are struggling to make ends meet.

    Stagnant pools of raw sewage can be found in many areas.

    Hospitals, frequently filled with patients who have been blown up or shot, desperately need more equipment and medicine.

    No money

    "We have heard about all these projects, but I don't think one-fourth of the money has been spent. There is a shortage of garbage trucks," said a parliament member.

    "We have seen nothing from the donor countries. They just spend money on their staff and hotels."

    Politicians who hailed Iraq's parliament as a symbol of the country's steps towards democracy after Iraq's first democratic elections in January now come under the chamber's spotlight.

    "We have seen nothing from the donor countries. They just spend money on their staff and hotels"

    Iraqi parliament member

    Parliament members, who have lost two colleagues to violence, meet in the heavily guarded government and diplomatic green zone surrounded by blast walls.

    "We just can't leave these problems open-ended. We have to come up with solutions," said one.

    Health disaster

    Iraq, a major oil producer, relies on limited crude exports, because fighters often blow up pipelines, depriving the government of export revenues that form the backbone of the economy.

    Monday's session focused on poor services, including what parliament member Muayad Ubaidi called a health and social disaster, hours after two bombings killed at least nine more Iraqis in central Baghdad.

    One female parliament member stood up and said neglect of the southern Shia city of Nassiriya reminded her of the toppled Iraqi leader's policies.

    "The governorate was suppressed under Saddam's dictatorship. Today I see worse suppression, as if they are continuing his policies," said Ibtisam al-Awadi.

    "Nassiriya hospital is not even capable of storing dates." 

    SOURCE: Reuters


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