Feb 28 2011
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Sadrists launch referendum on public services across Iraq
Baghdad - A leader in the Sadrist Current headed by Muqtada al-Sadr announced on Monday that a seven-day public referendum entitled "People's Voice Week" begins today into the services provided to Iraqi citizens.
Speaking to an assembly of religious scholars at the party's Baghdad headquarters, Hazem al-Araji said that Sadrist Current offices across the country would be the polling booths for the referendum in which the Iraqi public has the opportunity to voice its opinions on the provision of public services.
Sadrist Current deputy Hazim al-Araji told AKnews last week that the week long referendum will begin on Monday by all offices of the Sadrist Current in Iraq including the Kurdistan region, adding that the objective of the referendum is to deliver the citizens' demands to the Iraqi government.
Araji went on to attribute many of the shortcomings in public services to the damage caused by previous governments but added that "that some ministers in the current government don't have the ability to manage their ministries".
The protestors, inspired by the wave of rallies sweeping across the Arab world that have so far succeeded in overthrowing the long-standing leaders of both Tunisia and Egypt, were demanding the improved living conditions that they were promised by the political blocs during last year's electoral campaigns.
Despite the passage of eight years since the former Iraqi regime was toppled, successive Iraqi governments have not been able to ensure basic public services to the country's citizens.
In many Iraqi provinces, national electricity supplies are limited to around six hours a day despite government reports that billions of dollars have been pumped into the country's electricity grid.
Protestors are also calling for greater administrative transparency amid a multitude of allegations of governmental corruption. One such demand is that the government explains the fate of the $6 billion allocated to the food-subsidizing ration-card system that in many cases failed to reach the Iraqi citizen.
Rising unemployment and the lack of decent employment opportunities that have left up to 25% of the nation's youth without work have further fuelled public anger.
The rallies in several cities became less peaceful on Friday, notably in Mosul where protestors set fire to the Nineveh provincial government headquarters and in Basra where the governorate was stormed. Violent clashes between security forces and the public were also reported in Baghdad, Kirkuk and Salahadin. © AK News 2011
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