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Iraqi parliament dismisses defense minister

The file photo shows a view of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad. ©Reuters

The Iraqi parliament has dismissed Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi, who was recently embroiled in a corruption case.

Two unnamed lawmakers told AFP that the Iraqi parliamentarians voted on Thursday to withdraw their confidence from Obeidi by 142 votes to 102 in a secret ballot, while 18 abstained in the 328-seat legislature.

The no-confidence vote came weeks after a bitter feud that erupted between Obeidi and parliament speaker Salim al-Juburi over graft allegations.

On August 1, Obeidi went to the legislature to answer allegations of wasting billions of dollars in public funds and weakening the country’s armed forces in their fight against the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Iraqi Defense Minister Khalid al-Obeidi (C) walks during a visit to a military base, south of Mosul, Iraq, August 8, 2016. ©Reuters

During the questioning, however, he accused Juburi and several lawmakers of corruption.

Obeidi insisted that he was being challenged in retribution for his rejection of corruption, accusing the parliamentarians of seeking to blackmail him in order to pass corrupt deals, including a $1-billion catering contract, a $2.8-billion accord for armored vehicles, and a $421-million pact for US military Humvee vehicles.

On August 9, the Iraqi judiciary closed a corruption case against Juburi, citing a lack of evidence to proceed further.

The developments come as Iraqi Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi has faced calls to reform the country’s political structure in a bid to tackle corruption.

Earlier this year, the parliament was deadlocked for weeks over the premier’s efforts to reshuffle the cabinet.

Iraqi citizens also held sit-ins, called by firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, inside Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone aimed at keeping up pressure on the government to change ministers.

This is while the Iraqi army troops and allied volunteer forces are conducting large-scale military operations against the Daesh militants, who have been controlling swathes of land in the northern and western parts of the country since 2014.

The Iraqi army is gearing up for a major offensive in late September to purge Daesh from Mosul, the country's second city. Iraqi forces have managed to wrest control of several areas in the southern parts of the city, among them the town of Qayyarah.

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