On Aug. 31, 2013, Iraqi security forces used force to disperse demonstrations organized by activists and intellectuals in Baghdad and other cities to demand the cancellation of privileges and salaries for MPs and Iraqi officials.
The next day, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told the protesters that he supported their demands but that he broke up the demonstrations to prevent them from devolving into terrorism and civil disobedience.
More than five months later, it seems that the demonstrators’ message either didn’t reach its destination or reached it incomplete. On Feb. 3, parliament passed a new retirement law drafted by the government. The law maintains the privileges of deputies, special employee categories and senior staff while placing exceptions on administrative requirements.
It is interesting that Maliki assigned a special committee headed by his deputy Hussein al-Shahristani to respond to the demonstrators’ demands. The committee met on Sept. 1, 2013, and its president held a news conference to inform the public about the changes.
Shahristani said, “The committee has approved canceling pension salaries granted under special laws for all positions and jobs in the Iraqi state; such as the pension salaries in the national assembly law of 2005; the pension law for parliament of 2007; the electoral commission law No. 11 of 2007; the provincial councils [law] of 2008; the university service law of 2008; the law for the salaries of judges; and the law of the High Criminal Court.”
The new law, which was finally approved, granted many fair pension privileges for ordinary retirees and effectively canceled all prior laws. The new law was called the Unified Retirement Law.
But the new law was rife with exceptions for ministers and deputies, and it sparked a wave of popular discontent.