BAGHDAD -- Iraqi lawmakers have decided to vacate their premises in the capital city's well-protected Green Zone and move to a new building in central Baghdad, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.
Parliament rapporteur Muhammad al-Khalidi told RFI today that the legislature has approved a $1 billion plan for a new parliament building not far from the National Museum in downtown Baghdad.
He said the parliament is currently housed in the Palace of Conventions inside the Green Zone, which is designed for conferences rather than parliamentary sessions.
Hakim Abdul Zahra, a spokesman for the Baghdad mayor's office, told RFI the planned new parliament building will be part of a larger complex that will also include a five-star hotel, some 1,000 housing units, public parks, meeting halls, and party offices.
Abdul Zahra added that a plot of land has already been set aside, the project has been endorsed in the 2012 budget, and bids will be solicited from international contractors after all technical details have been finalized.
Baghdad resident Haidar Auda told RFI he welcomed the plan in the hope that when it is implemented "it will keep the politicians' motorcades off the road."
Tahsin al-Shaari, a government employee, told RFI that "this money is being wasted on politicians who have done little in the service of the people."