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 Lawmaker warns against cutting Kurdistan media outlets allowances  

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Lawmaker warns against cutting Kurdistan media outlets allowances  19.3.2011  

March 19, 2011

ERBIL-Hewlêr, Kurdistan region 'Iraq', — A Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman warned that the Kurdistan Region Government (KRG)’s decision of cutting the allowances for the media outlets will endanger the independence of the channels.

In a step which seemed a compromise to the angry anti-corruption protesters in Kurdistan, the KRG Prime Minister Barham Salih ordered to cut the allowances for all the governmental and non-governmental (political party affiliated) media. Hundreds of million Iraqi Dinars will thus be returned to the Kurdistan treasury.

This will put the independence of the media in Kurdistan at stake and will affect the coverage of the “positive developments” in the Region, the lawmaker believed.

Commenting on the motive for the decision, Othman said the KRG could instead of cutting the media allowances reduce the “large” number of the personal guards of some officials “because Kurdistan is safe.”

He also advised the Kurdish semi-autonomous government northern Iraq to reduce the salaries of the top officials as a sound economic measure.           

Dr. Mahmoud Othman is an Iraqi Kurdish parliamentarian elected from Sulaimaniyah, former member of the Barzani's Political Bureau Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and represents the Kurdistan Democratic Party and PUK- dominated Kurdistani List in Baghdad.
Salih, the Kurdish premier, earlier declared his cabinet has proposed 10% cut to the monthly payment of the high profile figures.

Iraqi Kurdistan is still considered one of the regions with the most press freedom in the Middle East. The situation threatens to deteriorate rapidly, however. Shortly after Barzani's speech the KDP began lawsuits against Kurdish independent media. Kurdistan passed a press law in 2008. This law prohibits prosecution based on an opinion piece.

The law was signed by Massoud Barzani who now threatens the independent media with fine after fine. In order to continue imposing restrictions on independent media he is relying on the use of obsolete laws from the days of Saddam Hussein.

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