The Iraqi government has named the deputy head of the country’s anti-corruption body to replace his boss, who is accused by a parliamentary committee of corruption himself, officials said Thursday.
The change comes as the U.S. Embassy is reviewing allegations that the Iraqi government is riddled with corruption and has, in some cases, sought to derail or prevent investigations into alleged graft by Shiite-controlled agencies or allied officials.
The new chairman of the Public Integrity Commission will be Moussa Faraj, said Sabah al-Saidi, the head of the parliament’s anti-corruption committee.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity, said the outgoing chairman, Radhi al-Radhi, had requested retirement and that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accepted. The official said Faraj will replace al-Radhi on a temporary basis until he is approved by parliament permanently to the new post.
Parliament Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani has protested al-Radhi’s removal, saying in a letter to al-Maliki on Wednesday that the move was “illegal and unconstitutional” because the commission is an independent body and not a government organization, the commission official said.
But al-Saidi said al-Maliki has the right to name a replacement for al-Radhi as long as he is approved by parliament later.
Al-Maliki told reporters Monday that al-Radhi fled the country after being charged with corruption — a claim al-Radhi strongly denied, saying he was at a training course at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington.