Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Speaker: 'Private contractor' to protect Iraq parliament

Above: A private helicopter used by Blackwater security services over Baghdad in 2004. Among Blackwater's contracts are responsibility for protecting U.S. State Department personnel. Left: People evacuate the scene of February's bombing in the Parliament Building inside the heavily fortified Green Zone.

Baghdad, Apr 24, (VOI) - Iraq's Parliament Speaker Mahmud al-Mashhadani said on Tuesday that the parliament signed a contract with a security company to protect the parliament inside the green zone in central Baghdad, but did not reveal its nationality.

A strong blast took place in the cafeteria annexed to the parliament on April 12, killing a Parliament Member Mohammed Awad along with 20 employees.

Today's parliament session witnessed a controversy between al-Mashhadani and legislator Qasem Dawoud, of the Iraqi National List, on the outcome of the blast investigation.

The deputy asked on the reason behind neglecting a former suggestion to assign a security company to protect the parliament four months ago.

"Protecting the parliament is now assigned to the interior ministry according to instructions by Iraq's premier and this will continue till the end of the investigation, as new measures could be taken," al-Mashhadani responded.

Qasem Dawoud also demanded to stop parliament's sessions till the end of the investigations, a demand rejected by legislators attending the session.

The speaker of the parliament warned the legislators in today's session against gathering in groups near certain places to avoid casualties in case of future attacks.

Parliamentarian Fouad Masoum, of the Kurdistan Coalition, also called for unveiling the outcome the investigation and to put an end to restrictions and searching procedures imposed on lawmakers, threatening to boycott the sessions.

Al-Mashhadani asserted that the investigation was due to end and the outcome will be presented to all members in a closed session, vowing to call to account all those responsible for the attack.

The recent suicide bombing inside the Iraqi parliament in the heavily-fortified green zone had killed deputy Mohammed Awad from the Dr. Saleh al-Motlak's Sunni Iraqi Front for National Dialogue, which has 11 seats in parliament, along with a number of staff in parliament.

Read the rest at VOI

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