Protesters hold up signs saying 'Receiving 48 million is a shame' and 'haram.' Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Civil society organizations are protesting a generous bonus given to departing members of the Kurdistan Region parliament – the most dysfunctional in the legislature’s history.
In its last session on October 31, 2018, lawmakers decided to give themselves a 48 million dinar ($40,300) bonus.
"It is clear to everyone that this parliament team was the weakest, because instead of being part of resolving rivalries of the people and political parties, they escalated the issues to the point that resulted in the closure and sabotaging of the parliament for two years, instilling uncertainty in the heart of people," read a statement from the organizations protesting outside the parliament in Erbil.
"Any bonus must be in payment for hard work. But we are asking, what did the MPs do for the people in order to justify deserving 48 million dinars?" the statement added.
The civil society organizations urged the government to cancel the bonus.
Angry protesters also slammed a parliament decree that gave outgoing MPs permanent VIP access inside Kurdistan Region airports.
“This decision contradicts justice,” they said.
Calling out lawmakers for their self-interest, the protesters called on the public to not accept “injustice from their representatives.”
The former parliament has been widely described as the most dysfunctional in the legislature’s 26-year history. It was largely ineffective, beleaguered by conflict and boycotts, and was shut down completely for two years after disputes between the KDP and Gorran reached breaking point.
It reconvened on September 15, 2017 in order to give a mandate for the independence referendum that was held 10 days later.
During its term, 206 bills were introduced, but just 31 were turned into law.
While parliamentarians engaged in inter-party squabbles, the country suffered under a financial crisis with public sector workers scraping by on slashed salaries.
One of the most contested bills was a series of salary and pension reforms that reduced salaries for senior government officials. It was never turned into a law.
The protesting civil society organizations urged the new parliament, which will hold its first session on November 6, to prioritize the reform bill, arguing it will save the government hundreds of millions of dinars.
"On the first day of the MPs being sworn in, we will come back to the parliament's doorsteps calling on them to prioritize the passing of the reform bill in a fair way," they vowed.