Iraq's parliament impeaches defence minister over corruption

Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi’s sacking came at a time when the Iraqi military was about to launch a key offensive to retake Mosul from DAESH.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In a file photo, the impeached Iraqi Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi, centre, speaks to his soldiers at a military base in Tikrit, 130 kilometres north of Baghdad, Iraq.

Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi was removed from the office on Thursday after the country's parliament impeached him over corruption allegations.

His sacking came at a time when the Iraqi military was about to launch a key offensive to retake Mosul from DAESH.

Iraqi Special Forces, backed by US-led coalition air strikes, took control of Qayyarah, a town which lies on the banks of the Tigris River. This is strategically important as this town is in way of Mosul.

"We control all parts of the town and managed, in very limited time, to root out Daesh," Lieutenant General Riyadh Jalal Tawfik, who commands Iraq's ground forces, told an AFP in Qayyarah.

Parliament impeached Obeidi with 142 to 102 votes in a secret ballot, while 18 abstained, two members of parliament told journalists on Thursday.

Obeidi, a key ally of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, had spearheaded the military campaign to retake territory that the terrorist group DAESH seized in 2014.

He said: “I have cut down on graft including ghost soldiers, members of the military who do not exist but whose salaries are collected.”

"Those who brought Iraq to where it is now have triumphed," Obeidi said in a Facebook post following parliament's vote.

"I tried with everything to fight corruption but it appears that its masters are stronger, their voices louder and their actions more enduring."

He was asked in the Parliament to clarify his position over the alleged corruption in weapons.

He denied the allegations, but accused the Speaker of the Parliament Salim al Jabouri and five other lawmakers of corruption.   

The Speaker offered to lift his immunity that he could be investigated impartially in the court of law. But some lawmakers considered the impeachment of the Speaker as sparking sectarian tension in the country.

Lawmakers have alleged the sacked Defence Minister for wasting of billions of dollars and weakening of the armed forces to the point where they collapsed in 2014.

Iraqi security forces could not face the fighters of terrorist group DAESH in the rule of previous government of Nur al-Maliki. Obeidi was the then Defence Minister.  

TRTWorld and agencies