Iraqi PM Vows to Limit Weapons to State, Hold Elections
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi held the weekly cabinet meeting in the southern Basra governorate and later toured border crossings, sending several messages on security, rule of law, the economy and politics.
Wednesday's meeting in Basra came to support the wealthiest governorate in Iraq which also houses the world’s largest oil field and the country’s only port.
The Prime Minister previously visited Diyala and Karbala as part of his tour to a number of governorates to discuss challenges and problems facing their residents.
During his press conference in Basra, Kadhimi stressed that weapons should be limited to the state, and border ports and crossings should be under the control of the authorities.
He also renewed his vow to resolve the country's economic and health crisis, and create the appropriate conditions for carrying out fair elections.
Kadhimi toured the northern Umm Qasr port and the Safwan border crossing with Kuwait, as part of the campaign to combat corruption in entry points.
He reiterated that the government wants to eliminate administrative corruption caused by the influence of militias and parties that control most Iraqi border crossings, and warned that any corrupt employee will be prosecuted.
Accompanied by customs officials, the premier also directed port military units to prevent any force or party from entering the premises by force.
The ports are one of the most important entry points in all countries of the world, as they constitute an essential pillar of the economy, Kadhimi said according to his office, adding that it is necessary to set plans to develop them.
“The country is going through a financial and economic crisis, and the most important non-oil financial revenues which can support the state treasury come from ports and customs,” said Kadhimi.
He admitted that it will be difficult to control the situation on the border in general and Basra in particular, but that despite the challenges there is an opportunity for law enforcement.
Basra has suffered for years from unemployment, poor municipal services, scarcity of drinking water and lack of electricity.
The water scarcity sparked last year a wave of angry protests after hundreds of people were hospitalized with typhoid or diarrhea.
The cabinet took on Wednesday a set of decisions that will help alleviate citizens' suffering, including going ahead with contracting procedures in relation to the Great Basra Water Project, which is considered one of the most strategic projects in the country.
The government also agreed to include the Basra governorate in the periodic follow-up of the project through specialized committees and in coordination with the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Municipalities.
The cabinet approved establishing an infrastructure implementation program to distribute residential plots to entitled groups through the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Municipalities which will work with the contractor of Basra governorate to review and update the designs of al-Sayyab Residential city.
In addition, the cabinet decided to refer all delayed projects in Basra to the ministerial council on services which will submit its recommendations to expedite them.
Al-Zubair Sewage Project will also be referred to the same council for recommendations of fast-tracking after inviting Basra's governor to take part in its deliberations.