03/23/2009, 00.00
IRAQ
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Iraq, 62,000 public employees fired on corruption charges

The interior ministry has launched a campaign aimed at uprooting corruption and sectarian divisions. Political activities have been prohibited for police officials, and sharing of information among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds is being promoted in order to ensure law and order in the country. Iraqi minister: "We now have a chance to be the first workable Arab democracy."

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Iraqi interior ministry has fired 62,000 public employees who have been accused of corruption, and has launched an intense campaign aimed at dismantling sectarian and confessional divisions among the security forces. Interior minister Jawad al-Bolani revealed the news in an editorial published yesterday in the U.S. newspaper the Chicago Tribune.

"We've tackled corruption," al-Bolani writes, "by firing 62,000 employees and begun to dismantle sectarianism by prohibiting all political activity by police officers and creating a force made up of all Iraqis, Shiite, Sunni and Kurd."

The Iraqi interior ministry is made up of more than half a million people. Since the fall of the regime of Saddam Hussein, in 2003, it has been marked by corruption, interconfessional conflicts, and bad management that al-Bolani describes as "pervasive," "preventing us from rebuilding our infrastructure and returning a sense of normalcy to the country." But the minister insists that Iraq has changed direction, and is now capable of maintaining law and order: "We now have a chance to be the first workable Arab democracy," he says.

In order to stem the violence that exploded in the country in 2004, the ministry created a special security division, the national police. Between 2005 and 2006, this had become a domestic source of violence and division. Now the situation has improved, and the country has begun a slow journey toward normalcy that it intends to maintain thanks in part to the continued recruitment of police officers. "Challenges remain, of course," al-Bolani admits, "as we continue to combat militia infiltration and the death rattle of the insurgents, but momentum is on our side."

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