Iraq bans travel by officials accused of corruption

Sunday 31/07/2016
Obeidi: Speaker Salim al-Juburi, several lawmakers are corrupt

BAGHDAD - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has imposed a travel ban on several parliamentary officials accused of corruption, his office said Tuesday.

Defence Minister Khalid al-Obeidi on Monday told parliament that speaker Salim al-Juburi and several lawmakers were corrupt and had sought to blackmail him.

Abadi ordered a "temporary travel ban" against those accused, in order "to investigate the validity of the allegations," a statement from his office said.

It was unclear if the travel prohibition applied to Obeidi, who was himself in parliament to answer corruption allegations brought by lawmaker Alia Nasayif.

The members of parliament accused by Obeidi included Nasayif, Mohammed al-Karbouli and Hanan al-Fatlawi.

Abadi's spokesman Saad al-Hadithi declined to give the names of the officials affected by the ban or to clarify whether or not it applied to Obeidi.

Obeidi's official Facebook page outlined his allegations, including that Juburi was involved in attempting to pass corrupt arms contracts.

Another post charged that Juburi and three lawmakers, including Nasayif, had blackmailed Obeidi "for the purpose of passing corrupt deals and contracts at the expense of Iraqi blood".

Obeidi's official Twitter account also said he had revealed the "names of MPs and politicians who practise acts of blackmail against him to pass corrupt contracts, among them the (speaker) of parliament."

Monday's session broke down after Obeidi's accusations, which Juburi then denied at a press conference.

Abadi on Monday ordered Iraq's anti-corruption commission to investigate the allegations and to work on the issue with a parliamentary committee.

The row surrounding the defence minister comes as Iraq prepares for a drive to retake second city Mosul, the biggest operation yet in the country's war against the Islamic State group.

The acrimony follows weeks of deadlock over Abadi's efforts to replace the cabinet earlier this year.