The head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and one of its members were arrested by police on Thursday on corruption charges, IHEC officials said, in the latest apparent move for more government control of independent bodies.
Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a court ruling in January 2011 that put the IHEC and other entities, including the central bank, under cabinet supervision, raising concern over attempts to consolidate power by the Shi'ite premier.
An IHEC official who declined to be named said a judge had issued a court order for police to arrest the head of the IHEC, Faraj al-Haidari, and member Karim al-Tamimi on charges they had given bonuses to some employees of the body.
Haidari confirmed to Reuters by telephone that he and Tamimi had been arrested but denied the graft charges.
"It has nothing to do with corruption at all," he said.
"The whole issue occurred in 2008 when the IHEC council was authorised to give some bonuses... The amount is 100,000 Iraqi dinars ($85.76) for each person, they were five or six only. There was an approval from the Iraqi board of supreme audit."
Haidari and other IHEC members were summoned to parliament last July to respond to questions about the bonuses, but a vote of no-confidence against the commission failed to carry.
Political tensions have been running high in Iraq since December, when Maliki moved against two senior Sunni politicians following the withdrawal of U.S. troops nine years after the invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein.
Critics fear that the premier may be showing autocratic tendencies in some of his actions and view Maliki's control over key security ministries with suspicion.
On Wednesday, a parliamentary source said parliament had sent a letter to the cabinet reminding it not to interfere in central bank policy and not to assert its authority unconstitutionally.
Ukranian separatist leader says talks will not go ahead on Sunday and a date is yet to be set.
The agency assists 48 different African countries and is supported by the European Union.
Carmakers have scaled back business as collapsing oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine push Russia into recession
Several others were injured and sustained gunshot wounds and two young Palestinian men were transferred to a Ramallah hospital
Nuclear deal runs until June 30 after two extensions, and has been designed to buy time for talks on final settlement, with IAEA confirming Iran adhering to terms of accord.
Hamas welcomed the support of Iran saying Arabs are just spectators to the Judaization of Jerusalem by Israel.
Birmingham based ‘Islamic Help’ and the London based Muslim Charities Forum have lost their government grants but will consider decision to appeal DCLG decision.
Obama's annual speech to congress will outline his priorities for the following year.
Serbia's foreign minister expresses disappointment over the gas pipeline's cancellation.
Lukashenko and Poroshenko will meet on Sunday, in Kiev; Belarus's official news agency Belta reported
A Pakistani Taliban group has said it will kill more children if the government went ahead with plans to hang a key commander
Armed rebels throw a bomb at an army patrol, continuing previous day attacks on Seiyun. Army Lieutenant killed but attack yet to be claimed by any group
Ban Ki-moon has pledged support for Liberia as the country recovers from the Ebola epidemic
Modi's government hoping to sway US companies to enter Indian market ahead of Obama visit next month.
Ten members of pro-Damascus Arabic Socialist Baath Party were arrested after found being involved in kidnapping of opponents of regime.
Sanctions not intended to weaken Russian economy 'but to effectuate a change in relations,' says German foreign ministry spokeswoman