Al-Maliki: report to Congress must reflect Iraq's improvement

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Monday that he expects positive developments in the country in the past months will be reflected in a report to Congress this month.

Al-Maliki also told reporters that a new law easing the ban on former members of Saddam Hussein's party will be sent to parliament for discussion and will probably be approved. The prime minister added he expects to fill Cabinet vacancies next week.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker, and Gen. David Petraeus are due to report to Congress during the week of Sept. 10 about progress since the arrival of 30,000 extra troops this year.

"I believe that they are part of those observing the situation and they are witnessing this progress and when they speak they will be speaking about objective and positive developments," al-Maliki said. "I expect that the positive developments will be, for sure, reflected in the report to Congress on Sept. 15."

He listed among the achievements a reduction in sectarian fighting "to a large extent."

Meanwhile, he revealed that Iraq's top corruption fighter has fled the country after being faced with corruption charges himself.

Al-Maliki said that Radhi al-Radhi, head of the Public Integrity Commission, offered his resignation and fled to an unspecified country.

"The anti-corruption committee in parliament summoned Mr. Radhi al-Radhi and filed some charges against him and the parliament was planning last week to make him resign and refer him to courts," he said. "We were then surprised that he was able to leave the country and said he wants to resign. We might accept his retirement demand but this does not mean that he will not be pursued to face the charges against him."

Politically, al-Maliki said a de-Baathification draft law that the Bush administration is pushing for approval is ready and will be soon taken to parliament.

"I believe that the parliament ... will approve it," he said.

He added that he was he was giving a final chance for six ministers who follow the radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and another six from the Sunni Iraqi Accordance Front who have resigned from his Cabinet to return, but that he had names ready to replace them. He did not give further details.

"If they decide to come back, then they are welcome and if not there will be substitutes," he said.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova