Iraq parliament dismisses Finance Minister

Sunday 18/09/2016
Second minister to be removed by parliament in less than one month

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament voted on Wednesday to remove the country's finance minister, who was questioned over corruption allegations last month, lawmakers said.

Of 249 parliament members in attendance, 158 voted to remove Hoshyar Zebari, who became finance minister in 2014 after a long career at the helm of the country's foreign ministry, two MPs said.

"The finance minister was removed during a secret voting session," MP Ammar Toma said.

Abdulrahim al-Shammari, another MP, confirmed that parliament had voted to remove Zebari.

Zebari, who denied the corruption allegations, is the second minister to be removed by parliament in less than a month.

Lawmakers voted on August 25 to sack and impeach defence minister Khalid al-Obeidi, who had also been questioned over alleged corruption.

Interior minister Mohammed al-Ghabban resigned following a bombing in central Baghdad that killed more than 300 people in July, and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's office announced that he had also accepted the resignations of six other ministers.

Abadi called in February for the cabinet to include technocrats, but has faced major opposition from powerful political parties that rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds.

Parliament approved five new ministers in August after months of delay, but the powerful defence and interior posts remain unfilled.