UN says to help Iraq tackle rampant corruption
BAGHDAD – Reuters
A woman walks past the site of the Karrada suicide bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq July 26, 2016. REUTERS photoA United Nations agency said on Aug. 11 it would help Iraq to tackle endemic graft that is eroding its economy and institutions as Baghdad struggles to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.
The U.N. Development Program will recruit international investigators to mentor and train Iraqi government auditors tasked with corruption investigations, it said in a statement released after a signing ceremony with the Iraqi government.
Oil-rich Iraq ranks 161st out of 168 nations in Transparency International’s Corruption Index.
Thirteen years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, the country still suffers a shortage of electricity, water, schools and hospitals, while existing facilities and infrastructure suffer widespread neglect.
Health Minister Adila Hamoud offered to resign on Aug. 10 after 13 premature babies were killed in a fire at a hospital in Baghdad, amid accusations of negligence and lack of maintenance at government healthcare facilities.
Graft has exacerbated the effects on the economy of a sharp decline in oil revenue caused by falling crude prices and the costs of fighting ISIL, which has controlled large parts of northern and western Iraq since 2014.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri resumed his official responsibilities on Aug. 10 after an Iraqi court dropped corruption charges against him.
“Al-Jabouri has resumed his duties as parliament speaker,” his spokesman, Imad al-Khafaji, told Anadolu Agency.
On Aug. 9, citing a lack of evidence, a court dropped graft charges leveled earlier against al-Jabouri by Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi.
Al-Khafaji said the parliament speaker’s immunity “will be restored once the corruption case is officially closed.”
Earlier Aug. 9, parliament had voted to lift al-Jabouri’s immunity so that he might be investigated for alleged corruption.