Housing Initiative Part of Election Strategy?

Khalaf said, “Maliki tried to buy votes in previous elections, when he announced from Basra that the squatters on state lands (al-Hawasim) would not be evicted. That decision was made haphazardly in front of applauding crowds, and he wasn’t held accountable for it. Maliki is now back to playing the same game by giving donations to the Journalists Syndicate and by giving away land to citizens.”

Baghdad Governor Ali al-Tamimi, who is from the Sadrist Movement, accused those behind the land-distribution initiative of nepotism and favoritism in how they are distributing the land. He said that many of those who received land are wealthy people who own houses.

Tamimi asserted that land distribution in Baghdad is one of the prerogatives of the governor of Baghdad, as the head of the local government, and not the central government. He said that Maliki did not consult him about the matter and didn’t listen to the province’s experience in this regard.

In addition to directly distributing land to citizens, Maliki is attracting professional associations by promises of distributing land to its members. He ordered the allocation of housing land plots for all teachers “in recognition and as gratitude for their efforts in building the next generations,” according to the head of the teachers syndicate in Najaf, Mohammed al-Badri.

Badri added, “The approval of the prime minister came after a meeting with the head of the [union] branch in Al-Rasafa, Mohammed Saeed al-Saadi. [The meeting] resulted in the allocation of land plots to all teachers in Iraq.”

But many teachers in Baghdad deny that land has been allocated to them. Basma Ismail, a school teacher at al-Karkh, told Al-Monitor that the school administration was instructed to request that she and her colleagues who did not receive land from the state to refer to the education departments tasked with filling the forms for teacher land grants.

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