Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has announced an early general election for 6th June, 2021, roughly a year ahead of when it would normally be held.
According to Reuters, the Iraqi parliament must ratify the election date.
The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) welcomed the announcement. The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, said:
“Properly conducted credible, free, fair and inclusive elections can re-energize the political system and build public confidence, giving the people a voice and realizing their aspirations for better representation.”
The Iraqi Cabinet held its weekly meeting in the city of Basra on Wednesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister said that the Cabinet meeting in Basra is the first of a series of such meetings that will take place in other Iraqi cities and provinces.
The Prime Minister added that Basra is Iraq’s economic and cultural gateway and has a special place in the hearts of all Iraqis.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to the people of Basra, saying they have endured the horrors of dictatorship and wars, just as they endured the consequences of corruption, mismanagement and bad planning that afflicted their city and its environment.
The Cabinet then discussed several projects in Basra, and agreed to:
Press ahead with contracting procedures in relation to the Great Basra Water Project, and for the work on this strategic project to commence
Direct the Ministry of Water Resources, in cooperation with the Ministry of Construction and Housing, and Basra Governorate, to submit a plan to implement the Al-Bida Water Project
Direct the Ministries of Finance and Planning to include Al-Bida Water Project in the 2021 Federal Budget
Establish an infrastructure implementation programme to press ahead with the distribution of residential plots of land to entitled groups through the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Municipalities which will work with the consultant contracted by Basra Governorate to review and update the designs of Al-Sayyab Residential city
Authorise the Governor of Basra to pay the salaries of 30,000 Basra citizens from the Governorate cash reserves
Refer all delayed projects in Basra to the Ministerial Council on Services which will submit to the Cabinet recommendations to expedite them
Refer Al-Zubair Sewage Project to the Ministerial Council on Social Services which is required to make recommendations to the Cabinet to expedite the project after inviting the Governor of Basra to take part in its deliberations.
By Omar al-Jaffal for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Iraq’s plans to cut salaries face strong backlash
The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi is seeking to reopen the “social justice” issue regarding state spending on salaries.
This means abolishing double salaries, reducing allocations to political prisoners and martyrs and compensation to those who fled to Rafha in Saudi Arabia during the 1991 Shiite uprising in southern Iraq.
The Iraqi Cabinet held its regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi.
At the start of the meeting, the Prime Minister outlined the challenges facing the country in relation to Covid-19 and the Iraqi government’s efforts to combat the pandemic and provide support to health institutions and medical teams.
The Prime Minister called on all Iraqis to follow the directions of the Higher Committee for Health and National Safety, and to follow official health advice for their own safety and that of all Iraqis.
The Cabinet discussed recent protests in relation to grievances to do with the Ministries of Defence, Education and Electricity. The Prime Minister directed ministers to engage in a dialogue with the protesters in order to reach realistic solutions commensurate with their demands and with the difficult challenges facing the country.
The Cabinet discussed current economic and financial challenges, and the necessary measures to encourage and promote investment in Iraq’s economy as a key driver of growth and of job-creation.
Following further discussions, the Cabinet decided to:
Allow students at stage 3 of intermediate education to progress to stage 1 of secondary education based on their half-term exam scores
Authorise the Minister of Health and Environment to take all necessary measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic
Consider combatting the pandemic a competency of the federal government, and falls within the general policy of the state
Provide the necessary support to expedite the completion of hospitals in Dhi Qar and Maysan provinces
Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zangeneh and his Iraqi counterpart Ihsan Abdul Jabbar discussed ways to promote cooperation between the two neighbors in the oil industry.
In a telephone conversation, Zangeneh and Abdul Jabbar called for the expansion of oil cooperation between the two Muslim neighbors.
The Iranian minister congratulated Abdul Jabbar on taking office as the new oil minister of Iraq after formation of a new government under Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s leadership, according to the Iranian government’s official website.
Abdul Jabbar said Iraq’s daily export of crude in June has reached 2.8 million barrels.
The Iraqi oil minister also emphasized that it would be in Iraq’s interests to abide by a production cut agreement between OPEC and its allies, known as OPEC+, saying the Iraqi Kurdistan Region has been directed to comply with the OPEC+ deal and cut its share of oil output.
The OPEC members, Russia and other oil producing nations agreed in April to cut output by around 10% of global supply to support oil prices amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Iraq’s parliament has approved the appointment of the former head of the Basra Oil Company (BOC) as Minister for Oil.
Variously named as Ihsan Ismaeel, Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail, and Ihsan Ismaael, he was one of seven cabinet ministers approved on Saturday, completing Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s 22-member government.
The other posts filled were foreign affairs, trade, culture, agriculture, justice and migration.
According to Al Jazeera, Fuad Hussein, who served as finance minister in the previous government, is the only member of the old government to join the new team, returning as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The veteran Kurdish politician is reported to be close to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani.
(Sources: AFP, Iraq Oil Report, Reuters, Al Jazeera)