Iraq's Barham Salih tells UNGA of ‘national battle’ against corruption

Iraqi president's speech also addressed rampant terrorism and a need for unity to fight climate change

Follow for live UN General Assembly coverage

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Thursday said his country was facing a “national battle” against corruption and that it could not move forward until it was won.

In remarks before the UN General Assembly in New York, Mr Salih said that much depended on his country fighting corruption and terrorism.

He also said his country is one of the most affected in the world by climate change and urged other world leaders who might differ politically on other issues to be united in fighting it.

Iraq, he said, faces a turning point in the coming weeks as the country heads to the polls in early elections in response to widespread protests.

The vote is scheduled to be held on October 10, a year before the elections were due, in line with a promise made by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi when he assumed office in 2020.

He is seeking to appease anti-government protesters who rose up in October 2019 in Baghdad and the south of the country.

Tens of thousands of Iraqi youths took to the streets to decry rampant corruption, poor public services and unemployment.

Hundreds died as security forces used live ammunition and tear gas to disperse crowds. The protests dwindled following restrictive measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The legitimacy and transparency of the election has been questioned, with incidents of violence against activists and independent candidates on the rise, including a string of targeted killings in the months leading to the polls.

Updated: September 23rd 2021, 10:44 PM