Iraqi PM names new cabinet to fight corruption

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2016 7:21 AM

By Saif Hameed and Stephen Kalin

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi named Nizar Salem al-Numan as a candidate for the key post of oil minister on Thursday as part of a cabinet reshuffle aimed at fighting corruption, state television said citing its correspondent.

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

Abadi presented his new cabinet lineup to parliament as part of a drive to form a technocrat government in the face of resistance from politicians who fear their entrenched interests could be hurt.

Abadi merged several portfolios and presented a list of 16 ministers while keeping the current defense and interior ministers, state television said earlier.

The established political parties fear a reshuffle could weaken patronage networks that have sustained their wealth and influence for more than a decade.

But Abadi has to deliver on long-promised anti-corruption measures or risk weakening his government as Iraqi forces gear up to try and recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State.

Pressure is also coming from powerful Shi'ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who started a sit-in near parliament on Sunday and leads a bloc which includes three current ministers. He is pushing Abadi to appoint nominees unaffiliated with political parties.

Parliament must vote on any changes but postponed its session until Saturday, state TV said, so that lawmakers could have time to review and possibly challenge the candidates.

(Reporting by Saif Hameed, Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Richard Balmforth)