Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al Abadi has asked the Iraqi Parliament to gather to start voting on a proposed government of technocrats, in a move connected to a recent anti-corruption drive.
On Monday al Abadi pledged in a television statement that he would continue his reforms designed to tackle corruption in the country
"The cabinet reshuffle is part of a package for comprehensive reforms," al Abadi said, going on to urge parliament "to convene immediately to help contribute in finding solutions to the challenges facing" Iraq.
Iraq has grappled with a political crisis since last month. The deepening crisis has involved several members of parliament who have been carrying out a sit-in protest against the prime minister’s proposal for a new cabinet.
Lawmakers implementing the sit-in, both Sunni and Shiite, have called on the prime minister and the country's top leadership to resign.
Iraqi Shiite cleric joins rally in Baghdad
An influential Iraqi Shiite cleric on Monday attended a rally in central Baghdad urging lawmakers to vote on the changes to the cabinet proposed by the prime minister.
Security forces cordoned off a downtown square with barbed wire and concrete blocks after hundreds of supporters of Muqtada al Sadr on Sunday set up tents.
Some of protesters waived Iraqi flags while others shouted anti-corruption slogans.
Al Sadr on Saturday called on parliament to vote on a new government in Monday's session.
"If these conditions are not met, then let it be known that the people will decide," al Sadr warned.
Last week, al Abadi offered a modified list of candidates for parliamentary approval, but parliament postponed voting after a dispute erupted on April 12.
Iraqi MPs refused to recognise Parliament Speaker Salim al Jabouri as chairperson in an assembly session and accused him of failing to order al Abadi to answer corruption allegations.
The crisis escalated further last week when MPs refused to allow Speaker of Parliament Salim al Jabouri to chair an assembly session, accusing him of failing to summon al Abadi to answer corruption allegations.
Iraq's current system of government involves sharing out ministerial positions along ethnic and sectarian lines, which has been accused of exacerbating corruption in the country.