Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Iraqi parliament dismisses Nineveh governor after Mosul boat capsize

Nofal Al Agub has been the subject of controversy in the northern province

Iraqi women cast flowers into the Tigris river in remembrance for the victims of the capsized ferry in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. AFP
Iraqi women cast flowers into the Tigris river in remembrance for the victims of the capsized ferry in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. AFP

Iraqi politicians voted to dismiss the governor of Nineveh on Sunday after a ferry sinking in the provincial capital Mosul last week in which more than 100 people drowned.

Nofal Al Agub has been the focus of angry demonstrations in which protesters have blamed his administration for the ferry disaster, in which the victims were mostly women and children, on the Tigris River on Thursday.

The boat was loaded to five times its capacity, local officials said.

"Parliamentary Speaker Mohammed Halbousi has received a request from 121 MPs to sack Mr Al Agub and to refer him to the judiciary for committing serious offences," Jaber Al Jaberi, a member of the Iraqi Parliament, told The National.

"The majority of Parliament's 329 members vote for his dismissal. He will be taken to court but in our country everything is possible."

The governor has the option to appeal against his dismissal in court but he is yet to respond to it.

Legislators also voted to sack Mr Al Agub's two deputies, as requested by Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi in a letter to the parliamentary speaker.

“Due to the obvious negligence and dereliction in performing duties and responsibility, and the presence of evidence proving misuse of public funds and abuse of power, we suggest that you dismiss the governor and his deputies,” Mr Abdul Mahdi wrote in the letter to Mr Halbousi.

He also ordered that a crisis committee be formed to ensure that the central government responded to the province's demands.

Iraqi law gives the federal parliament the right to fire provincial governors on the request of the prime minister.

Politicians said before the vote that the ferry incident presented an opportunity to dismiss Mr Al Agub after a series of complaints.

“An investigative committee has accused the governor’s administration of corruption and negligence. The disastrous accident has also proven his incompetence,” Mr Al Jaberi said.

Officials in Baghdad have been receiving complaints and reports from Mosul accusing Mr Al Agub of corruption and abuse of power, legislator Sarkawt Shamsadin said.

“The Mosul ferry accident became an opportunity to finally push MPs to sack the governor in a bipartisan effort,” Mr Shamsadin said. “Mosul deserves better."

The governor was suspended in December 2017 for two months over corruption and damage to public property.

Mr Al Agub also faced charges of fraud, corruption, kidnapping and torturing journalists after they shed light on his alleged activities.

Nineveh’s provincial council removed the governor in 2016 but Iraq’s Federal Court overturned the decision.

On Saturday, Mr Al Agub was attacked by protesters who threw stones and shoes at his car, demanding his resignation.

The car sped off hitting two people, one of whom was taken to the hospital.

Mosul university in mourning

Students and staff from the University of Mosul wore black on Sunday to mourn those who were killed in the accident.

“First of all, the bodies must be found and justice must find its path,” said Ali Baroodi, a lecturer at the university told The National.

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“People are furious and outraged."

Mosul is still recovering from a months-long battle to liberate it from the control of ISIS in 2017. The fighting destroyed the old part of the city and killed thousands of civilians.

Reconstruction has been slow and last week a recently rebuilt bridge across the Tigris collapsed during flooding caused by heavy rain.

Updated: March 25, 2019 01:19 PM

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