UN to help Iraq curb widespread corruption

Source: Xinhua 2016-08-12 04:00:38

BAGHDAD, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed Thursday an agreement with the Iraqi government to tackle the widespread corruption that is paralyzing its economy and institutions as the country is fighting to defeat the Islamic State (IS) militant group.

"The UNDP stands ready to support the reform process in any way we can. Reforms are difficult and sensitive but with Daesh (IS group) nearly defeated, strengthening governance is a top priority," a UN statement quoted Lise Grande, the UNDP representative and UN humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, as saying.

Under the terms of the agreement, the UNDP will recruit international investigators to help mentor and train Iraqi investigators, the UN said in the statement released after the signing ceremony with the Iraqi government.

Naoufel al-Hasan, the Chief of Staff of the Office of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, said "ending impunity is at the center of our reform agenda. We have reached out to the UNDP to provide technical assistance to strengthen our capacity to investigate and prosecute corruption cases," according to the statement.

For his part, Saad al-Hadithi, spokesman of Abadi's office, attributed resorting to international investigators to pressure that might be exerted on Iraqi investigators by some parties.

"The presence of international investigators and specialists will ensure impartial investigations," Hadithi told reporters.

Earlier, Abadi pledged to carry out substantial reforms, including fighting corruption and activating the economy, by using international and local expertise that would help the government in the reform plan.

Last year, Abadi launched several reform packages after massive demonstrations in the Iraqi capital of Baghdad and several other cities in the south to protest against slack public services, power shortage, and massive corruption.

Abadi's reform plan gained popular support at first, but with the passing of time the reforms fell short to convince many demonstrators, who held many demonstrations and demanded that Abadi be more aggressive against the political parties that benefited from corruption and could reverse the reforms to their own good.

Some political blocs and politicians apparently have been resisting the reforms because there is a lack of trust among the political parties, who see that such reforms, or part of them, are marginalizing their factions from the political scene, which originally was built on power-sharing agreements.

A series of failed reform measures have paralyzed Iraq's parliament and the government as the country is struggling to fight the IS, which seizes swathes of territories in northern and western Iraq.

The country is also in dire need to respond to an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices.