Iraq supreme court rules Hoshyar Zebari out of presidential race over allegations of corruption

Iraq supreme court rules Hoshyar Zebari out of presidential race over allegations of corruption
Iraq's Supreme Federal Court has ruled that former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari is not eligible to run for the presidency amid corruption allegations, the state news agency reported on Sunday.
2 min read
13 February, 2022
Zebari, a prominent Kurdish politician, was finance minister when he was sacked by parliament in 2016 over alleged corruption [source: Getty]

Iraq's supreme court on Sunday ruled out a bid by veteran politician Hoshyar Zebari to run for president after a complaint filed against him over corruption charges.

Zebari, 68, who served as foreign minister for a decade after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein, was previously "suspended" from the race on February 6, on the eve of the scheduled date for a presidential vote in parliament in which he was the favourite.

MPs submitted a complaint against Zebari before the supreme court, on the grounds that his participation would have been "unconstitutional" because of the outstanding corruption charges and on the basis of reputation.

"The federal court decided in its verdict to invalidate the candidacy of Hoshyar Zebari to the post of president of the republic," state news agency INA announced.

Live Story

On Tuesday, parliament announced the reopening of registration for candidates to the largely ceremonial post of the president, which is reserved for Iraq's Kurds after a delay for lack of a quorum.

Zebari, also a former finance minister, was initially tipped as a favourite out of a total of 25 candidates, along with incumbent President Barham Saleh.

The complainants cited Zebari's 2016 dismissal from the post of finance minister by parliament "over charges linked to financial and administrative corruption".

Public funds worth $1.8 million were allegedly diverted to pay for airline tickets for his personal security detail.

The complaint also cited at least two other judicial cases linked to Zebari.

"I have not been convicted in any court," Zebari said in a television interview last week, as the charges resurfaced on the eve of the scheduled election, alongside forecasts that he would unseat Saleh for the four-year posting.

A new date for MPs to elect a president has yet to be announced, and no fresh candidate list has been released.

Iraqi politics have been in turmoil since general elections were held in October.

The polls were marred by the record-low turnout, post-election threats and violence, and a delay of several months until final results were confirmed.