Iraq recovers property worth millions after illegal sale

Iraqi women look at the Egypt section of the Baghdad International Fair, Iraq November 10, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Iraq recovers property worth millions after illegal sale

  • In a statement to journalists, the Integrity Commission said it had worked with Baghdad authorities
  • The northern neighborhood of Kadhimiyah is home to a revered Shiite shrine

BAGHDAD: The Iraqi government said Wednesday it had retaken ownership of a piece of property in Baghdad worth millions of dollars after it was unlawfully sold to a government official’s wife.
In a statement to journalists, the Integrity Commission said it had worked with Baghdad authorities to recover the land in Kadhimiyah district.
“The Baghdad-Karakh appeals court issued a decision to seize the property, which amounts to 12,642 square meters, from the wife of a leading official in the previous government and re-register it in the name of the Mayorality,” the statement said.
“The land registration in the name of the official’s wife has been nullified, as well as all subsequent registrations,” it added.
The northern neighborhood of Kadhimiyah is home to a revered Shiite shrine, as well as some of the city’s most luxurious properties — priced at up to $10,000 per square meter.
The Integrity Commission said its investigation had revealed the official had sold the property to his wife in violation of laws regulating the lease or sale of state-owned property.
It did not reveal the official’s identity, but a parliamentary source told AFP the accused had briefly served as a deputy to Iraq’s former prime minister, Haidar Al-Abadi.
In Baghdad, abandoned homes once belonging to Saddam Hussein-era officials or to minorities who have fled abroad are regularly occupied by powerful political parties.
Iraq, according to Transparency International, is the 12th most corrupt country in the world.
The embezzlement of public goods — from land to government funds — is a deeply rooted problem in a country with such a large public sector.
Corruption, shell companies and “phantom” public employees who receive salaries but do not work have cost Iraq the equivalent of $228 billion dollars since 2003, according to Iraq’s parliament.
That figure is more than the country’s gross domestic product and nearly three times the annual budget.


Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

Sudanese protesters attend the Friday prayers near the military headquarters in Khartoum during an ongoing sit-in demanding a civilian-led government transition. (AFP)
Updated 19 May 2019
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Ramadan in Sudan: Iftar with the ‘flavor of revolution’

  • For some this holy month might be the first, without Bashir’s regime, for many years

KHARTOUM: Over the past 30 years, the Sudanese people have lived under the repressive regime of Omar Al-Bashir. But, since the surge of protests that began in the city of Atbara on Dec. 19, in what was to become the start of the Sudanese revolution, citizens hoped that this Ramadan might be the first for many years, and for some, of their entire lives, without the president.

Now, that dream has been realized.
Under Bashir’s rule, poverty stalked the country, but despite the increase in destitution, the values of solidarity and compassion remained strong throughout Sudanese society. Now, as the revolution enters its next phase, those traits endure.
The sit-in in front of the General Command of the Sudanese Armed Forces represents the largest manifestation yet of solidarity and compassion among the general public, who have made this latest protest a symbol of their desire to form a civil government, and turn the country toward the path of democracy and freedom.
Thousands of Sudanese have marched to the rallies, with families arriving hand-in-hand, including their young children in tow, carrying food and drink to prepare for iftar in the courtyard.
The turnout includes hundreds of Sudanese from voluntary organizations providing Ramadan meals to the fasting protesters, and even the soldiers guarding the building, painting a colorful picture of the true spirit of the holy month.
The most prominent charity leader in Sudan, Fares Al-Nour, who was arrested before the overthrow of the Bashir regime, says two centers have been established within the sit-in to supply protesters and soldiers alike for iftar.
Alaa Eddin Sulaiman, an activist, told Arab News that this year’s Ramadan came with the “flavor of the revolution” and that the Sudanese people were expressing joy that the holy month had arrived with Bashir and his regime forced to go.
“We are preparing for a new era, in which the winds of democracy, justice, freedom and supremacy of the law will prevail,” he said.