Iraqis send Valentine to leaders




Young Iraqis are to hold a Valentine's Day rally on Monday to call on their leaders to love the war-battered country rather than rob its resources, an organiser told AFP.

"We do not want Valentine's Day to be only one day of love but a celebration for reform, democracy, citizenship and freedom," said Karnas Ali, a young engineer.

Three groups under the names of "No Silence," "Baghdad Is Not Kandahar" and "Blue Revolution" are organising the event.

They are using Facebook to call for the demonstration at Baghdad's Tahrir Square, which like in other Arab capitals has the same name as the main venue in Cairo for Egypt's uprising which toppled president Hosni Mubarak.

"We will ask the leaders of this country to love Iraq and meet the demands of the people," said Ali, a leader of "No Silence.""The only thing that unites us is our love of Iraq, its unity and our determination to hunt down the corrupt," he said, adding that his Facebook page had received nearly 5,000 visits.

Iraq has also witnessed protests in the wake of Arab uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, but ordinary Iraqis demand improvements in basic services such as water, sewage and electricity rather than a toppling of the regime.

The watchdog Transparency International rates Iraq as the world's fourth most corrupt, with diplomats and local officials often citing widespread graft as a major obstacle to its post-war reconstruction and development.

The head of Iraq's own anti-corruption watchdog told AFP last week that ministers, instead of fighting graft, prefer to hide departmental corruption."Once they step into their positions, they see their ministry as a family concern and prevent others from coming in or fighting against corruption," said Commission on Integrity head Rahim Hassan al-Uqailee.

AFP

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