In Rudaw 

Abadi visits Wasit, promising jobs, services and projects for protesting Iraqis

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi met with a delegation of locals and officials from Wasit Province and gave directions for jobs, services and projects amid raging protests across southern Iraq.

Abadi met with tribal leaders, prominent individuals, locals and the provincial council in the presence of the Construction and Services Committee in provinces, his media office stated on Sunday.

“Stabilizing security is an important part of helping the country rise and providing services,” Abadi said in the meeting. Abadi added that the government’s job is serving the people, “pointing out that there is an economic renaissance ahead of us after we achieved victory.”

Abadi warned against “the corrupt riding the wagon” of victory, saying there needs to be cooperation to expose them. Abadi in the meeting gave directions for job creation, the completion of projects and then services.

The premier ordered the completion of the al-Sawirah sewage project, ensuring funds for paving roads, the building the second lane of al-Sawirah-Hilah Road, and for al-Kut’s major water project to be finished.

He highlighted “ensuring the determined portion of electricity to the areas of the province, including agricultural areas to ensure irrigation as it is the most important need for the continuation of agriculture.”

Abadi gave orders to also reconsider the schedule of debts and interests piled up on farmers due to water scarcity or other factors. The agricultural sector will also be supported in its livestock and plant sections.

The Iraqi PM also ordered compensating poultry farmers who were negatively impacted by the bird flu earlier this year.

The Ministry of Finance — which Abadi himself oversees — will also work to ensure allotments for the al-Hai district “for rehabilitating and improving infrastructure.” Mobile power stations are to be provided for districts in the province to improve electricity.

Improving the health sector in the province was another directive by Abadi, with plans to expand the Fayrouz Hospital and to complete the Turkish Hospital in al-Kut, while also providing medical needs and staff.

Iraq’s protests, which are mainly concentrated in the Shiite south, began on July 9 in the oil-rich province of Basra. Protesters are demanding jobs, basic services like water and electricity, and an end to corruption.

Fourteen people have been killed and hundreds more injured, according to Iraq’s own human rights commission. The Iraqi government blocked access to social media for nearly a week. Hundreds were detained, but were later released.

Human rights organizations have condemned the heavy-handedness of Iraq’s security forces and the internet blackouts.

Abadi is under mounting pressure to address the demands of the protesters. He has promised to accelerate infrastructure projects and create jobs. Protesters say they will remain on the streets until concrete reforms are given.

The province will also have public employment, and employment at production plants and factories of the Ministry of Industry and other relevant authorities, Abadi reassured. Source