BAGHDAD, Iraq’s prime minister banned travel by a number of legislators accused of corruption and extortion on Tuesday.
The travel ban, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said, will be temporary, and will remain in force until an investigation is completed. It comes after Defense Minister Khaled al-Obeidi accused several members of the Council of Representatives, including Speaker Selim al-Jabouri, of attempting to extort him. During a legislative session Monday, Obeidi said he was asked to pay $2 million in bribes to keep from being questioned about alleged corruption in the defense ministry.
Abadi ordered Iraq’s anti-corruption agency to investigate Obeidi’s allegations, banning those accused from travel.
A political crisis began earlier this year, prompted by protests demanding Abadi switch his government with a team of independent technocrats given the mandate to fight corruption.
The non-governmental organization Transparency International ranked Iraq among the worst countries in its 2015 “Corruption Perceptions Index.” Iraq was listed 161st of 168 countries considered.