Iraqi PM asks parliament to clarify stance on corruption-fighting cabinet

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 29, 2016 1:54 PM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi asked parliament on Tuesday to give him clear guidance on whether he should appoint party politicians or independent technocrats to a new cabinet aimed at fighting corruption.

Abadi was responding in a speech broadcast on state television to a deadline set by parliament on Monday to come up with a new lineup by Thursday.

"The council of representatives should clarify its position. Does it want ministers from the political blocs or technocrat ministers from outside the blocs and quotas?" he said.

Powerful Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Sunday launched a personal sit-in inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses embassies and government offices, escalating the pressure on Abadi to deliver on his plan.

Abadi said more than six weeks ago he would replace ministers with technocrats unaffiliated with political parties.

But other politicians, including some within his own Shi'ite Dawa party, have pushed back against such a reshuffle, fearing it could weaken the political patronage networks that have sustained their wealth and influence for more than a decade.

In his speech, Abadi indirectly called on al-Sadr to end the protests which he said were burdening the security forces as they fight Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni group that controls vast territory in northern and western Iraq.

"Reforms should not be allowed to impact the military and security situation," he said.

(Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)