Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi said parliament would focus on enacting laws on reconstruction and investment in Iraq, building a strong army capable of protecting Iraq's security and sovereignty, eliminating terrorism, extremism and corruption.
Al-Shorfa interviewed al-Nujaifi in Baghdad about the new parliament's agenda.
Al-Shorfa: Are all segments of Iraqi society represented in the current parliament?
Osama al-Nujaifi: The current session of the parliament is considered the most successful session because it represented all Iraqi groups and sects, with no exceptions. All the Iraqi groups took part in the last election; therefore, there are no Iraqis who are not represented in parliament.
In this session, the parliament will work for the service of Iraq and the Iraqi people, and will overcome all obstacles and operate with high professionalism.
We will observe the work of government, monitor mistakes in government institutions and help them fix such mistakes. We will not hesitate to hold accountable those at fault. We are confident that this government will offer the best to Iraqis, given that it was based on political consensus and understanding among parties. There is agreement among all sides to get past problems and move ahead.
The government also shoulders a lot of tasks and faces many challenges, the most important of which are completely eliminating terrorism, continuing building and reconstruction, strengthening the economy, providing basic services for Iraqis, and protecting human rights. Therefore, we are very optimistic about the government realising the aspirations of the people. We are also confident that Iraqis will co-operate to ensure the success of the government's work.
Al-Shorfa: Will the central government have strong relations with Iraqi provinces?
Al-Nujaifi: The parliament intends to hold a conference in Baghdad to be attended by all local governments and chairmen of provincial councils to bring views closer together. We will draft a new roadmap for relations between the centre and provinces and there will be radical solutions for conflicts between ministries and local governments. The solutions will based on the Iraqi Constitution and will be in compliance with the applicable laws.
The parliament is keen on reconnecting the Iraqi provinces. We are working in the parliament right now to overcome all obstacles, get rid of tension in society, and improve security, political and cultural co-operation among different provinces because of the positive effects of such co-operation.
Al-Shorfa: What are the most important tasks the current parliament will undertake?
Al-Nujaifi: In fact, there are very many extremely important issues. They include resolving a number of issues that were postponed in the previous session of parliament, such as approving the journalist protection law, developing a social protection project, combating unemployment, undertaking energy projects and deciding on a public budget and its appropriate distribution.
However, the present situation lays a historical responsibility on the shoulders of Iraqi leaders, forcing them to work carefully to attend to the demands of our people. The arming and development of the military is one of the biggest tasks Iraq must take on to guarantee the security and safety of the country after the full withdrawal of US forces from Iraq later this year.
This is in addition to scores of other important laws that all aim to serve Iraqis in the fields of health, education, environment, and infrastructure, such as water, electricity, sewage, transportation and communication. As well serving Iraqis through national reconciliation and combating financial and administrative corruption in state departments.
We will also work on enhancing individual and personal freedoms for members of different ethnic and religious groups, granting women a greater role in the daily life of Iraq, bringing displaced people back to their homes and country, removing all obstacles hindering their return, and disseminating a culture of tolerance and religious and cultural awareness. We will also try to open politically and economically to advanced world countries, and to protect human rights and enhance awareness of them.
In the upcoming period, the parliament will be responsible for effectively evaluating and enacting laws to support the interests of the people. The parliament's oversight role continues to change the course of the country and improve stability by building strong institutions and enacting laws and legislation. We will not have a strong government without a strong and unified parliament. And we will have this, God willing.
Al-Shorfa: How do you think the Iraqi people feel about terrorism?
Al-Nujaifi: The Iraqi people are determined to combat all forms of terrorism, organised crime and criminals. Iraqis are very keen on combating extremism and all related matters. We are confident that Iraqis will be able to move beyond terrorism and into building and reconstruction.
We will not allow any attempt to undermine the solidarity of the Iraqi people. Iraq needs national and political cooperation in order to get rid of terrorism. It also needs reconciliation among adversaries who believe in national interests and a democratic Iraq. Terrorism does not believe in anything except for the logic of force, and the only solution is to uproot it from Iraq.
In addition, Iraqi tribes have a major role in combating terrorism, rejecting violence, enhancing relations of brotherhood and Iraqi unity, and working to build the country economically and institutionally. In previous years, they have proved that they are worthy of shouldering the responsibility and protecting the country. The Iraqi tribes will be an effective element in Iraq's future battle to reconstruct the nation and its economy, to build a state of institutions and an independent judiciary, and to build security and military institutions under a unified Iraq.
Al-Shorfa: How will the new parliament support migrants and displaced people?
Al-Nujaifi: The parliament is working hard to bring them back to their homes and country. We decided to resolve this issue as soon as possible. There will be practical discussions and we will form committees to work for the full return of displaced people. The parliament will also support the allocation of financial grants to help them and we will dedicate all efforts towards that end.
Al-Shorfa: What about poor people and the widows and orphans of terrorism victims?
Al-Nujaifi: Iraq needs an advanced and practical social system to support this group in a way commensurate with Iraq's revenues. The coming period will witness an increase in Iraq's oil revenues, which will help us build government bodies, including bodies concerned to deal with the problem in a suitable way through financial allocations for this group and by enacting special laws to provide housing, education, medical services and all other rights to them. And we promise them that we will never let them down.
Al-Shorfa: Are you optimistic about the coming years?
Al-Nujaifi: Yes, everything indicates that Iraq has started to recover and that the forces of evil are in decline. In the meantime, a new sun is emerging in Iraq, represented by the strong intention and determination on the part of everyone to protect, build and promote Iraq. The country is our own responsibility and we will never abandon it. Therefore, yes, optimism accompanied by determination and resoluteness is the motto of the new parliament.