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Iraq Lawmakers Want Armored Vehicles For Protection

The new session of parliament opening in November 2010
The new session of parliament opening in November 2010
BAGHDAD -- Lawmakers in Iraq have petitioned the government to provide armored vehicles for their protection in addition to their current assignment of bodyguards, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq reports.

Kurdish bloc member Jula Haj Omar told RFE/RL that 191 deputies, mostly newly elected lawmakers, have signed a memorandum demanding that armored vehicles be put at their disposal to ensure their safety.

Omar said that that this form of protection is especially required for lawmakers from provinces outside Baghdad who frequently visit their constituencies.

Hussein al-Safi, a member of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's National Alliance bloc, said that "a lawmaker's safety is no less important than a minister's or even that of a police captain, both of whom have armored vehicles, if not a convoy for their protection."

Safi said that "there may be many more deputies than ministers, but that does not justify putting their lives at risk as they move about in the line of duty."

Alia Nusayif, a member of former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's Al-Iraqiyah bloc, said that "a director general admittedly has an armored vehicle for protection, but due to budgetary constraints and lack of sufficient funds for investment, providing the same protection for deputies has to be put off until financially more favorable circumstances arise."

In Baghdad, Iraqi Um Yusuf said that one would have expected the people's representatives to focus on such daily concerns as lack of basic services and other vital issues affecting ordinary Iraqis, rather than armored vehicles for their own safety.

Another Iraqi, Ahmad Fadhil, said that "the deputies have to be joking, as each already has a small army of bodyguards."

An Iraqi lawmaker's basic monthly salary is $10,000. In addition, Iraqi deputies also receive a $12,500 monthly allowance for housing and security arrangements, adding up to total monthly remuneration of $22,500.

The average monthly salary in Iraq in 2008 was estimated at $350-$375.