Demand for ‘slow coup’ against Iraqi corruption

5 Jul 19

A prominent Iraqi cleric has reportedly called for a “slow coup” to replace senior government officials for a failure to tackle growing corruption.

Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr reportedly wants to see independent professionals fill top government seats in a bid to both fight corruption and improve services.

However, a prominent supporter of the cleric told Arab News that Al-Sadr has so far ruled out organising demonstrations to pile pressure for reform on prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi. 

“We can say that Al-Sadr is leading a peaceful and slow coup to correct the government,” an official of Al-Sadr’s party that controls Iraq’s largest parliamentary bloc Sairoon told the newspaper on condition of anonymity.

“He also wants to dismantle the mafia of financial and administrative corruption that controls the ministries and loots public money.”

Rival political groups in Iraq are competing to control thousands of top government positions under existing power-sharing arrangements.

A majority of the top jobs have been under the control of the Islamic Dawa Party that has led most of the governments that have run the country since the US-led invasion in 2003. 

Negotiations between political factions and parties in June on sharing out positions ended in deadlock, and a new deadline at the end of October is now likely to be agreed.

According to Arab News, Al-Sadr blames Dawa’s appointments for endemic corruption that has also resulted in a decline in public services. 

There have been demonstrations in Iraq’s southern provinces over a lack of basic services, including drinking water and electricity, as well as high levels of unemployment.

“We are working to achieve change by changing the government decision-makers,” added the anonymous official of Al-Sadr’s party.

However, the official has so far ruled out support by his leader for demonstrations, which often turn violent in Iraq.

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index places Iraq among the most corrupt countries in the world.

Al-Sadr and other lawmakers have repeatedly said they are working to dismantle what they have called a “deep state” formed by Iraq’s former prime minister Nouri Al-Maliki.

  • Gavin O'Toole, expert on Latin America
    Gavin O'Toole

    A freelance journalist. He has written six books about Latin America and taught the politics of the region at Queen Mary, University of London.

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