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 Reform committee in Iraqi Kurdistan unveils thousands of fake bodyguards

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Reform committee in Iraqi Kurdistan unveils thousands of fake bodyguards ‎ 26.3.2012 

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Photo: AP See Related Links
March 26, 2012

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — Karwan Salih, an MP in the Kurdish parliament, says that more than 50,000 people are employed as bodyguards for government officials in the Kurdistan Region.

The Kurdistan Presidency Reform Committee (KPRC) launched an investigation into the issue of the large number of bodyguards last year. The initial results show that most of the names listed do not exist but that salaries were still paid by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Salih, who is also a member of parliament’s Interior Affairs Committee, says, “Sixty-seven thousand names are listed on the KRG payroll as bodyguards. Fifty thousand are supposedly providing security for senior government officials.”

The KPCR report, published last week, is dedicated in large part to the issue of the bodyguards of senior government officials, political party officials and well-known figures.

According to the report, some government officials are behind the nonexistent bodyguards.

“Most of the bodyguards are only names on paper. The salaries taken under the names of the bodyguards mostly end up in the pockets of the senior officials themselves,” reads the report.

A presidential decree issued last year urged the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Peshmerga to reduce the number of paid bodyguards as part of a reform plan.

The decree stipulates that government ministers cannot have more than six bodyguards; the parliament speaker and prime minister can have no more than 40 bodyguards each, and their deputies can keep 20 bodyguards.

According to the decree, the offices of the two ruling parties -- the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) -- can keep 25 guards each. Other political parties are not mentioned in the decree.

Brigadier General Bachtiyar Baban, a consultant at the Ministry of the Interior, says the decree does not treat senior officials equally. He says the number of bodyguards of some of the senior officials has been reduced while other officials are allowed to keep the same number of guards.

Regarding the hoax list of names, Baban says, “The presidential decree leaves no room for those any longer.”

As an example, MP Salih points to the number of guards at the main office of the Kurdistan Communist Party (KCP),www.ekurd.net saying, “KRG is paying for 67 guards for the KPC’s headquarters, but in reality only a few guards are keeping the security of their headquarters.”

Zirak Kamil, a member of the Communist Party, says his party does not keep many guards in the first place, so they have no need for fake names.

Salih, who has been investigating the bodyguard scandal, says, “Some government and political party officials use their bodyguards as laborers. The bodyguards are used for construction work and other similar work which is not the job of security guards.”

“This is illegal,” he adds. “Bodyguards are not to be treated as laborers. Their job is to defend their bosses, not to do their housework.”

Fayaq Tofiq, deputy minister of the interior, thinks the figures given by Salih are exaggerated. However, he refused to provide any statistics.

By Shwan Barzinji

Copyright ©, respective author or news agency, rudaw.net

 


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