Iraq PM bids to end vice president and deputy PM roles

Haider al-Abbadi proposes decree cancelling the roles, vowing to tackle corruption and cut costs amid national protests.

Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi on Sunday issued a decree proposing the cancellation of the country’s vice president positions and deputy PM role.

A statement on the PM’s Facebook page said that Abbadi will also investigate corruption, reappoint all senior officials based on professional rather than sectarian standards, and reduce the number of security personnel protecting senior officials in order to cut down on waste.

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Abbadi held a meeting on Friday evening with a number of experts and advisers to discuss the administrative and financial reforms in his new bid to tackle corruption in the country.

The decision to terminate the roles was approved by Abbadi’s cabinet on Sunday, but still requires parliamentary approval.

Iraq’s Deputy Prime Minister Bahaa al-Araji resigned shortly after Abbadi’s proposal on Sunday, Iraq’s state news reported.

Anti-government demonstrations persisted in several cities such as Basra, Baghdad, Nasriyah and Najaf in the past two weeks over poor living conditions, including electricity cuts and water quality.

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Jamjoom, reporting from Baghdad, said Abbadi’s decision sent shockwaves throughout the Iraqi government establishment.

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“It is not a surprise considering how much pressure the PM has been under from these mounting protests that have been growing in various cities throughout the country.

“Many activists have been calling on the government to end rampant corruption here in Iraq.

“All of the people we spoke to here say they want to see an end to rampant corruption, they want the return of basic services, they want electricity, they want to have air conditioning at a time when Iraq is experiencing a blazingly hot record heatwave and they want to have clean water,” Jamjoom added.

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‘Big step towards tackling corruption’

Other points proposed by Abbadi include cancelling special privileges and expenses that were allocated to the three branches of the government, merging some ministries and slimming down others to improve services and cut down on expenses.

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Mustafa Saadoun, one of the organisers of the recent protests in Baghdad and director of the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera: “If these decisions do go through they are certainly a new beginning for us, and a big step towards tackling and getting rid of corruption within the government.” 

“For the past two weeks we have been protesting for change in the capital, and today we support the answer.”

Source: Al Jazeera