Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Top Iraqi corruption investigator resigns

Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki has accepted the resignation of Judge Rahim Hassan Al-Uqailee, the man leading Iraq's fight against corruption, in a blow to efforts to clean up the country's government and parliament.

Al-Uqaliee, the head of the country's Integrity Commission, submitted his resignation on 8th September, citing “pressure from political parties” to cover up corruption and a lack of political support for his agency.

Despite al-Uqaliee's public frustrations with stonewalling politicians, other explanations for his resignation are already circulating in Iraq's febrile political atmosphere. One of the members of the parliamentary committee on integrity, Sabah Saadi, claimed that the ruling party was pushing al-Uqaliee to launch “false and fabricated” corruption probes against political figures including Ahmad Chalabi, the US's former protégé in Iraq.

One of Saadi's fellow committee members, however, said that al-Uqaliee's resignation was a result of his failure to produce results in tackling Iraq's rampant corruption, ranked as the fourth worst in the world by Transparency International.

A third MP, Shakir Kitab claimed that the resignation “sheds light on complicated political relations and lack of transparency and stability in the government” rather than on the activities of one or another political bloc.

On 12th September, al-Uqaliee reiterated his reasons for resigning in a public letter to the integrity committee. In it, he declared that “the fight over stealing the money of the state and its property is the unspoken part of the struggle for power in Iraq today”. Despite such obstacles, however, in 2010 the Integrity Commission issued 4,082 arrest warrants for government officials, including 197 high-level figures.

According to Iraqi MPs, al-Maliki is planning to replace al-Uqaliee with a fellow member of his Dawa Party, Ala' al-Sa'idi. It remains to be seen whether the new head of the Integrity Commission will be able to ignore the pressures and obfuscations of shady officials.

Sources: AFP, Los Angeles Times, Aswat Al Iraq

For more news and expert analysis about Iraq, please see Iraq Focus.

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