Iraqi PM awaits approval of new cabinet from parliament

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi seeks approval for cabinet reshuffle from parliament after presenting new cabinet aimed at battling endemic corruption

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi arrives to attend a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the end of a meeting at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy February 10, 2016.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi is awaiting approval from parliament for his cabinet reshuffle plan after presenting the new cabinet lineup aimed at fighting corruption in the country.

"He presented a list with the names and CVs of candidates for the ministries, chosen by a special committee of experts on the basis of professionalism, competence, integrity and leadership", a statement in Abadi’s website read on Thursday.

The statement did not specify the numbers of ministers that will be affected if the reshuffle is approved or whether the candidates were affiliated with powerful political parties.

Iraq's parliament postponed its session until Saturday after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi presented a new cabinet lineup aimed at combating corruption, state television said on Thursday.

State television added that its correspondent Al-Abadi Nizar Salem al-Numan was named as a candidate for oil minister.

Abadi also named prominent Shi'ite politician Ali Allawi for the post of finance minister and chose Sharif Ali bin al-Hussein, a relative of Iraq's king deposed in 1958, for foreign minister, state TV added.

However, Abadi could face a no-confidence vote amid street protests and pressure by powerful Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr.

On Sunday, Sadr launched a personal sit-in inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zonei which houses embassies and government offices.

The statement came two days after Abadi’s call for the parliament to make up their minds.

He asked parliament on Tuesday whether “it want ministers from the political blocs or technocrat ministers from outside the blocs and quotas, and if its last vote means that, or means something else as some of the leaders of the blocs say,"and he indirectly called Sadr to remove protesters from streets. Abadi often said the protesters are burdening the security forces as they fight DAESH.

"The current state of alert of troops has started to impact the status of war against as some of the troops have to be kept and reinforced by additional troops in Baghdad and the provinces as a precaution against terrorist attacks and security breaches. Thus, we call on all our people and our political forces to take this into consideration and relieve the burden placed on armed and security forces,"  he said.

The plan to change the cabinet was first introduced more than six weeks ago by Abadi as he said he wanted to replace current ministers with independent technocrats.

His announcement divided politicians as Sunni politicians demanded a complete cabinet reshuffle, while Shiite lawmakers could not agree on their stances as some from the Shi'ite Dawa party opposed the plan and Kurdish politicians insisted that 20 percent of ministers in the new cabinet must be Kurdish.

Iraq, a major OPEC producer that relies on oil exports for most of its revenue, has been plagued by corruption and mismanagement for years, ranking 161 out of 168 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015.

TRTWorld and agencies