Following two weeks of protests against corruption and poor services, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi has finally taken the right decision to reform the government. The proposals put forward by Al Abadi include setting up a high commission to investigate current and former officials accused of corruption and an overhaul of the way officials, including ministers, are selected, saying that all “party and sectarian quotas” should be abolished, and the candidates chosen by a committee appointed by the Prime Minister to “ensure fairness and competency”.
But one of the boldest proposals outlined by Al Abadi is the call for the abolition of the posts of vice-president and deputy prime minister “immediately.”
That proposal is actually not a bad thing as it is most probably aimed at removing former Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, who is currently vice-president. Al Maliki has been a negative force in Iraq’s political process for the past decade and is blamed for the failure of the military and security forces in stopping Daesh (the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) from overtaking Mosul and other northern areas.
He is also accused of buying influence in the army and security bodies. He is also known to have contributed to poor ties with neighbouring Gulf states. His policies led to sectarian polarisation, something Al Abadi has to work very hard to rectify.
The proposals require the approval of the parliament of course. But many believe Al Abadi has the support of the public and the influential religious establishment, henceforth, it is very likely he will get the legislature’s blessing. Yesterday, the Iraqi cabinet approved the first package of reforms presented by Al Abadi.
This is the right moment for Al Abadi to address the grievances of the people, especially the rife corruption in the government. Hopefully, his move is not aimed at soothing protesters, but a first step in reforming the system.
If his plan is to address Iraq’s failings, he will surely get the support of the Iraqi people and other Arab countries, something Baghdad needs badly as it is faced with detrimental security and social challenges.