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Sadrist bloc calls for removal of mayor of Baghdad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Iraqis make their way through a flooded street after heavy rain fell in Baghdad, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013.  (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Iraqis make their way through a flooded street after heavy rain fell in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Members of Baghdad’s city council have threatened to resign if Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki does not accept suggestions for a new mayor for the city, amid criticisms of the local government’s efforts to tackle flooding in the streets.

The Sadrist Movement’s Al-Ahrar Bloc threatened to suspend its membership of the Baghdad Governorate Council and “take to the streets” if Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki refused to open the door for nominations for a replacement for the Mayor of Baghdad, Abdul-Hussein Al-Murshedi.

The chairman of the city council’s education committee, Ghalib Al-Zamili, said: “The council voted during its ordinary session on Monday to send a delegation to the prime minister to call for the acceptance of nominations for the post of Baghdad mayor.

“The decision came after finding out that the mayoralty had been run by proxy for more than six years, which made the standard of services very poor,” he said.

Zamili added: “We are now facing two options: either we serve the people of Baghdad, or we resign our posts. The mayor of Baghdad must meet satisfactory professional standards and must be a mechanical engineer or the holder of master’s degree or a PhD, and to be a resident of Baghdad, with charisma and management ability.”

Zamili continued: “These standards will enable us to bring in a mayor who will be a servant and guardian of Baghdad, in order to revive it from this tragic situation. The Governorate Council today put the ball in the prime minister’s court, which must prove its credibility to the public and redeem the situation by dismissing those who failed the people of Baghdad.”

Meanwhile, former Baghdad governor Salah Abdul Razzaq announced that there was an agreement in the governorate to nominate a new mayor for the capital, one who enjoyed the approval of the Council of Ministers.

The mayor’s office said it “will not take responsibility alone for the floods in many areas of Baghdad.” Hakim Abdel-Zahrah, director of relations and media at the Mayoralty of Baghdad, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the main reason for what happened in Baghdad, especially on the Rasafa side, was due to problems in the main water drainage systems, especially the Khansa and Zeblin lines.”

Abdel-Zahrah said: “The mayor of Baghdad is an independent person and has done everything he could . . . to reduce the distress in the flooded areas of Baghdad, and therefore, the attempts to oust the mayor will continue as long as we have elections coming up.”