Iraqi PM opens Baghdad's Green Zone to public

Iraqi PM opens Baghdad's Green Zone to public
Haidar al-Abadi declared the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad open for the first time in 12 years amid efforts to cut spending and fight corruption.
2 min read
05 October, 2015
Baghdad's Green Zone has been closed to the public for 12 years [Getty]
Baghdad's Green Zone will open to the public for the first time in 12 years, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced.

The heavily fortified four square-mile zone is home to important political institutions and foreign embassies.

"The prime minister opened the Green Zone to public passage and people in their vehicles came in droves," a statement from Abadi's office said.

"The opening of the Green Zone is one of the measures we promised the people and we are opening it now," Abadi was quoted as saying in the statement, reported the Guardian.

The area will still be subjected to heavy restrictions, with many streets requiring special permission to access.
     Opening the area is part of a reform drive to address corruption and poor services.

It is hoped the new measures will reduce traffic congestion in the area.

The Green Zone was named as such and sealed off after the 2003 US-led invasion. It was established in the area that was the seat of government power during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

A senior Green Zone security official told The Associated Press that much of the restrictions on movement inside the Green Zone will still remain in place, particularly on streets leading to high-level government buildings and embassies, including the US embassy. The official spoke anonymously because he is not authorised to brief the media.

The decision to open a passage in and out of the Green Zone comes as calls for reform continue across Baghdad to end government corruption and reckless spending.

Last month, in a rare show of unity, the Iraqi government unanimously backed a programme proposed by al-Abadi to eliminate senior government posts and slash spending.