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Iraqi premier accuses adversaries of using corruption for electioneering | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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In this picture taken on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during the opening day of Sport City in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

In this picture taken on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013 Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki speaks during the opening day of Sport City in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

In this picture taken on Saturday, October 12, 2013, Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki speaks during the opening day of Sport City in Basra, Iraq. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki hit out against allegations of widespread official corruption in Iraq on Sunday, as more than 40 people were killed in a series of bombings in the capital and Mosul.

Speaking at an event celebrating “national integrity week,” Maliki said: “Terrorism is a result of a breakdown in the political process and it has led to a breakdown of society.”

Maliki spoke the same day that a wave of car bombs struck Baghdad, killing approximately 40 people in a series of attacks launched within half an hour of each other. A suicide bomb also struck outside a bank in Mosul, reportedly killing 14 soldiers.

The attacks are the latest in the worst wave of violence in the country since 2008.

As well as denouncing terrorism, Maliki called out his political opponents for focusing on the issue of official corruption in the run-up to parliamentary elections in 2014.

He said: “There are many people, political figures and contractors who tell us about cases of corruption among senior figures. When we ask them for evidence or audio recordings, or to give evidence before the courts, they refuse.”

Maliki said: “The causes of corruption are the poor upbringing of individuals and the absence of control over public money.” He added that “corruption has given the opposition an opening for electioneering and anti-government propaganda, which has been abused and will reflect on the results of the next elections, which will be bad.”

Maliki called on those who often appear in the media “to talk about patriotism and government achievements and call for unity, and to present evidence to prove corruption cases they talk about.”

“We will not give up the fight against corruption or stop punishing the corrupt, whoever they are,” the prime minister said.

He added that “freedom encourages corruption, and some media sources use freedom to attack others. There are corrupt people who threaten the Integrity Commission, the judges and police under the banner of freedom,” adding that “the Iraqi people were not in favor of the government because of what they faced from previous governments.”

Meanwhile, Talal Al-Zou’bi, an Iraqiya List MP and member of the Integrity Commission, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the Parliamentary Integrity Commission has recently worked on uncovering a number of corruption cases with indelible evidence, and all these cases have been referred to the Integrity Commission and to the judiciary.”

He added that “the parliament, despite what they say about its observer role and the political problems it faces . . . has played an active role in dealing with corruption cases in various ministries, including defense and trade, but the problem was the weakness of the judiciary and the pressures it comes under, which has led to a delay in a number of corruption cases.”

Hassan Yaseri, an MP for the State of Law Coalition, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “countries that have some sort of democracy and transparency always talk a lot about corruption, but only according to ways that preserve the stature of the state, and only the odd corruption case.”

He added that “the change in Iraq from a totalitarian, dictatorial state to a democratic state in one go was too big for a number of figures and forces, who obstructed the political process. Therefore, they have failed to differentiate between fighting corruption by calling it a phenomenon everyone should fight and causing damage to the state’s stature, of which it is part.”

Yaseri added that “the eradication of corruption has specific mechanisms, but we note those who appear on satellite channels and other media sources on the pretext of fighting corruption only have one mechanism, which is political defamation, which is itself a crime.”

He said: “Some of the ways to fight corruption are to go through the financial control bureau, the Integrity Commission or the parliament, in a constitutional manner, which has not yet been implemented. Therefore, we have reached a stage where people’s confidence in the state is shaken, as if there was nothing left in Iraq except corruption, and as if there were no achievements or something to make them proud of the state.

“All this will reflect on the results of the next elections, because people no longer trusted the political class, not just the government. People do not differentiate between the government and other politicians,” he added.

According to anti-corruption NGO Transparency International, more than half of Iraqis say that the government has been “ineffective” in tackling official corruption in 2013, while 60 percent say it has increased to some degree in the same period.

Unsurprisingly, almost three-quarters of people surveyed by the NGO said that corruption was either “a problem” or “a serious problem,” with more than a third of respondents admitting to having bribed police officers in the past year.