A number of authorities in charge of strengthening integrity and fighting corruption in the Arab region have witnessed important changes at the level of their leadership in 2015, reflecting in most cases a desire to pump new blood into such authorities with a view to strengthening their efforts while building on previous achievements and lessons learned.
On 9 April, the President of the Republic of Egypt appointed Major General Mohammed Mohammed Orfan Jamal El Dine as President of the “Administrative Control Agency” (ACA), who acts as the successor of Major General Mohamed Omar Heiba appointed advisor to the President of the Republic on anti-corruption issues. Orfan holds a Bachelor of Commerce and has been climbing the ranks of ACA since 1986, leading its General Secretariat and heading the department of special operations before becoming the Agency’s President. ACA is the central agency in Egypt concerned with coordinating anti-corruption efforts and is in charge of investigations and إستدلال in cases related to public money and public functions. The President of ACA also chairs the executive committee of the national coordinating committee on anti-corruption.
This change was preceded by the appointment of Dr. Hassan Al Yasiri as head ad interim of the “Commission of Integrity” by the Iraqi Prime Minister on 6 April. The appointment awaits legal confirmation from Parliament. A former law instructor, Al Yasiri comes with an oversight background having worked as a former member of parliament in Iraq. He is known for affirming his political independence on numerous occasions.
The beginning of 2015 also saw similar changes in other Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Indeed, Dr. Khaled Bin Abdulmohsen Al Mohaisen was appointed head of the “National Anti-Corruption Commission” in Saudi Arabia while a new board was appointed for the “Jordanian Anti-Corruption Commission” headed by Mr. Abed Kharabsheh, a former board member.
The four mentioned authorities are members of the “Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network” and have been active on a number of fronts. Indeed, previous months have witnessed the success of the “Administrative Control Agency” in Egypt in coordinating efforts for the development of the first national anti-corruption strategy in the history of the country. In Jordan, the anti-corruption commission successfully established a number of pioneering sectoral initiatives and paved the way for new means of engaging civil society in anti-corruption efforts, enabling Jordan to reach a score of 49 on the “Corruption Perception Index” for 2014, compared to 45 in 2013, thus becoming among the top improvers in the world. As for the Saudi agency, it made qualitative progress in terms of its awareness and education programs and strengthened its ability to monitor and detect corruption cases while also recovering large sums to the state treasury. In Iraq, the “Commission of Integrity” made a qualitative leap, referring 1923 cases to specialized courts during the first five months of the year with the number of convicted persons reaching 1668 including 15 ministers and persons of similar rank and 122 persons of private rank or at the rank of director general or similar ranks.
It is noteworthy to mention that the changes in each of Egypt and Jordan were internal, as the two new heads did not come from outside the agencies, contrary to the case in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
In all cases, important challenges await the four agencies including volatile security situations and public and media pressure to achieve concrete results, in addition to the technical requirements arising from the launching of the second round of the self-assessment of the United Nations Convention against Corruption which focuses on the assessment of the chapters related to corruption prevention (Chapter II) and asset recovery (Chapter IV) and which deal with implementing related national strategies and policies, some requiring amendments and updates while others requiring further efforts for an effective implementation.