Iraq Officials Must 'step Up' To Enact Reforms: UN Envoy To AFP
Muhammad Irfan 26 days ago Thu 14th November 2019 | 10:20 AM
Baghdad, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 14th Nov, 2019 ) :Iraqi officials must ramp up their response to mass demonstrations demanding an overhaul of the political system, the UN representative in Baghdad told AFP in an exclusive interview Wednesday.
"They are elected by the people, they are accountable to them," she said.
One in five people lives below the poverty line, despite the vast oil wealth of OPEC's second biggest producer.
It calls for an immediate end to violence, electoral reform and anti-graft measures within two weeks followed by constitutional amendments and infrastructure legislation within three months.
Hennis-Plasschaert discussed the plan with lawmakers on the sidelines of a parliamentary session on Wednesday, telling them: "Now is the time to act, otherwise any momentum will be lost -- lost at a time when many, many Iraqis demand concrete results." - 'A lot at stake' - Protesters have escalated their demands to deep-rooted regime change, unimpressed by government promises of reform.
"There is lots at stake here. Public trust is at an all-time low," Hennis-Plasschaert told AFP.
"Nothing is more detrimental to public trust than saying 'A' and doing 'B.' Nothing is more harmful than overpromising and under-delivering," she added.
She is one of the very few diplomatic figures who meets with Sistani, the revered 89-year-old cleric who never appears in public.
Following their meeting on Monday, she said Sistani, known as the marjaiyah, feared political forces were "not serious enough" to enact reforms.
"If the three authorities -- executive, judiciary and legislative -- are not able or willing to conduct these reforms decisively, there must be a way to think of a different approach," she warned at the time.
Pressed by AFP on what the "different approach" could be, Hennis-Plasschaert declined to elaborate, citing "the confidentiality we have with him." "The conversation with Grand Ayatollah Sistani is always straightforward, open, and frank, but I cannot go into further detail," the top diplomat said.
Hennis-Plasschaert met with protesters in Tahrir last month, even riding in the tuk-tuk rickshaw that has become an icon of the uprising for ferrying wounded protesters to medics.
"They are losing brothers and friends in the streets," she said of the young protesters she had met.
"We are witnessing rising numbers of deaths and injured every day. It's horrific," Hennis-Plasschaert said.
Hennis-Plasschaert told AFP she did not seek to be a counter-weight to Iranian influence, adding "it is not up to us." Iraq, devastated by decades of back-to-back conflict, has been caught amid spiralling tensions between its top two allies the US and Iran.
Given that tumultuous history, Hennis-Plasschaert said she feared "spoilers" could prevent progress.
"This country unfortunately knows many actors, external, internal, that could act as spoilers (and) undermine the legitimate demands of the people," she said.