Iraqi parliament passes vote of no-confidence against defense minister

The Iraqi parliament on Thursday passed a vote of no-confidence against Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, as the Iraqi forces are battling the Islamic State (IS) militants to free Mosul, the group's last major stronghold in Iraq, official TV reported.

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“The Council of Representatives (Parliament) voted in majority to withdraw confidence from the defense minister Khalid al-Obeidi after the lawmakers found his answers unconvincing during an earlier questioning session,” al-Iraqiya state television said.

IraqOut of 262 lawmakers present in the 328-member parliament, 142 voted for the no-confidence motion, according to the TV.

On Aug. 1, the parliament summoned Obeidi to respond to allegations of huge graft in his ministry.

However, he revealed that officials including Speaker Salim al-Jubouri and other lawmakers had blackmailed him on weapons contracts.

Jubouri immediately denied such allegations, and told a televised news conference that Obeidi’s charges against him and other lawmakers were “baseless.”

On Aug. 9, the Iraqi parliament voted to strip its speaker and two lawmakers of immunity from prosecution over the corruption allegations revealed by Obeidi, but hours later, the Iraqi judiciary cleared Jubouri of such charges.

“The judicial panel, tasked with examining the claims of corruption against the Speaker of the Council of Representatives Salim al-Jubouri, decided to dismiss the case against him due to lack of evidence,” the judicial spokesman Abdul Sattar al-Biraqdar said in a statement.

But Biraqdar’s statement did not say if the decision included the two other lawmakers also accused of corruption by Obeidi.

Observers say Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi forces, would probably serve as the acting defense minister after Obeidi was officially sacked.

The parliament’s decision came hours after the Iraqi security forces freed Qayyara, a strategic town 50 km south of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.

Regaining control of the town and the airbase would help government troops’ effort to free Iraq’s last major IS stronghold in Mosul, which is located some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been under the IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. Endit

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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