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Iraqi Parliament Fails to Meet After Too Many Members Leave for Hajj

The Iraqi Parliament was unable to convene on Wednesday, citing the fact that seventy of its 328 members decided make the mandatory Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj.

Masoud Haidar, an MP from the Kurdish Change Movement (Gorran), told Rudaw Media Network ““Because 70 MPs have gone on Hajj, we did not check whether or not there was a quorum.” The Eid holiday begins on Monday and will last four days. The Parliament will have to convene after the holiday.

In early August, the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi implemented a travel ban on politicians accused of crimes in order “to investigate the validity of the allegations.” It is not clear if any of the members that traveled to Mecca this week were part of this travel ban.

The Parliament has been riddled with corruption. As reported by Breitbart News in August, “Corruption is widespread in Iraq’s government, from senior officials to low-level functionaries, and while Iraqis have repeatedly demonstrated for change in the past year, little in the way of real reform has taken place.”

In mid-July, Breitbart News reported that the Iraqi Parliament reconvened after three months of recess: “The Iraqi parliament in Baghdad is expected to convene for the first time in three months amid deadly attacks that continue to plague the Iraqi capital.”

In the past months, the Parliament has been interrupted by sit-ins and strikes orchestrated by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Al-Sadr claims to be organizing these events to combat “corruption.” His work has already brought down the former defense minister Khalid al-Obeidi over inconsistencies with Iraq’s multi-billion dollar arms purchases. Obeidi accused House Speaker Salim al-Juburi and other MPs of corruption themselves. Rudaw is reporting that the latest leader to become a target for rumored corruption is Education Minister Muhamad Iqbal. Iqbal is being accused of administrative and financial corruption. 

The Iraqi Parliament recently voted to lift some immunity privileges for government officials. According to Breitbart News, “A majority of the 237 members in attendance subsequently voted to lift parliamentary immunity for Juburi and two others MPs, Mohammed al-Karbouli and Taleb al-Maamari, a parliamentary official said.” Speaker Salim al-Juburi voted to lift his own immunity and testified in front of the judiciary commission in response to Obeidi’s corruption claims against him.

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