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Iraq’s Christians demand ministerial position in new government

Yonadam Kanna, head of the Al-Rafidain Christian bloc in the Iraqi parliament, yesterday demanded Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi stop making the “mistake” of the previous government through its marginalisation of the Christian groups.

In a statement to the Anadolu news agency, Kanna said that the set-up of the new government, as was announced by Al-Abadi on Monday, was “a big disappointment for all Christians and a shock for everybody. How did those in charge of the formation of the government use the share of the Christian component in such a disrespectful manner?”

Al-Rafidain bloc has three seats in the parliament out of 328 seats, and it is considered the only bloc that represents Christians in Iraq.

The number of Christians in Iraq is estimated at about 450,000, according to unofficial estimates, with Christianity the second largest religion in Iraq after Islam.

Kanna added that the portfolio of the Ministry of Science and Technology which has been offered the Communist Party, which is allied with the Kurdistan Alliance, was not given to a party member from a branch allied with Al-Rafidain bloc.

The chairman of the Christian bloc explained that the act of not offering any ministerial positions to Christians in Iraq sends a negative message to the Christian community within the country and in the Diaspora, adding: “We are very resentful of the way the Christian component has been marginalized in Al-Abadi’s government.”

Kanna called on Al-Abadi to reconsider his decision regarding offering the Christian bloc a ministerial seat, pointing out that there is room for error correction by offering the Christians one of the ministerial portfolios that have not been named so far.

In an emergency session which took place on Monday evening, the Iraqi Council of Representatives granted a vote of confidence to the government of the new Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. There remain a few vacant ministerial portfolios that are due to be named within a week.

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