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 Fired and hired for their political beliefs?

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Fired and hired for their political beliefs?  21.7.2009 
By Shakhwan Mahmoud







July 21, 2009

SULAIMANIYAH, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — With Kurdish elections less than one week away, accusations of politically motivated public service dismissals and recruitment have emerged in Sulaimaniyah province, where the battle between the Kurdish List and the Change List is most fierce.

The Change List web-site Wusha has revealed a number of cases where
Change List members were dismissed from government jobs, allegedly because they did not back the Kurdish List,
www.ekurd.net the coalition of the long dominant Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

One such case is that of Dr. Jaffar Ali, Dean of Humanities at Koya University, who told Niqash that his university chairman forced him to resign after he nominated himself to run as a parliamentary candidate for the Change List.

A similar incident allegedly took place at the Technology School in Dukan. Professor Aras Ahmad says he was told by the dean that “since you are promoting the Change list, you cannot keep your position.” According to Ahmad the dean also told him that the decision to dismiss him was taken by the PUK’s Political Bureau.

The allegations of political interference have provoked sharp responses.

Dr. Kamal Mirawdali, a presidential candidate, demanded that the government condemn and prevent the practice, before commenting that “parliament and the judiciary have no authority as [their members] only obey their parties.”

But the PUK has rejected the claims, calling them political smear. “Nobody was expelled from his government post and these claims are only being used as a means of propaganda,” declared Sa’di Ahmad Bira, a member of the PUK political bureau.

Yet Bira did suggest that some employees should be forced out, saying that election law stipulates that if a person holds a senior position he must resign to stand as a parliamentary candidate. If he loses the election he can then return to his position.

The government says that each ministry has the power to transfer or dismiss employees, but that no one can be forced from his position for political reasons. Dr. Muhammad Qardaghi, a spokesman for the region's president, told Niqash that "we will not allow anyone to dismiss government employees because of differences in political views."

At the same time, critics say that the government is now hiring new staff in exchange for their political support. Recently, the government ended a four year freeze on public sector recruitment – the decision came just as the election campaign began – and already the ministries of education and health have recruited more than 2,500 new staff.

But those seeking jobs say they can only get positions if they pledge their political support to the governing Kurdish List. According to thirty-one year old Kazal Tayeb,
www.ekurd.net who has been trying to get a government job since graduating with an accountancy degree eight years ago, “they only started recruiting to benefit from our votes.”

Over 230,000 people are now registered as unemployed in the Kurdish Region, but most of those gathering at the council headquarters looking for work expressed the belief that they would have to demonstrate loyalty to the Kurdish List before being taken on.

Once again, the government has denied the accusations. “[Recruitment] is in no way linked to elections or electoral campaigns,” said Dana Ahmad Majeed, governor of Sulaimaniyah province.

Nonetheless, the Change list says that the facts speak for themselves and that political corruption needs to be rooted out of the system. The party which was created when
Nawshirwan Mustafa left the PUK because of lack of internal reform and corruption, says that new parties are needed to clean up Kurdish politics.

Copyright, respective author or news agency, niqash org

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