Iraq’s Shiite cleric calls for complete cabinet reshuffle

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BAGHDAD,  (Xinhua) — The influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called for a complete cabinet reshuffle, and expressed his discontent with the latest partial reshuffle after months of political row.

In a statement by his office, Sadr criticized the latest replacement of five cabinet members, as two were said to be independent technocrats while the other three were believed to be affiliated to leading political parties.

“The political blocs cling to their political gains and leave behind the people interests. This makes the reform plan called by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi almost impossible,” Sadr said.

“I don’t think that any of the politicians can sacrifice a few of their gains because their chairs are more precious than their homeland, or even their religion and faith,” Sadr added.

He also called for prosecuting all the corrupt politicians for all the years after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Sadr reiterated his demand to replace the cabinet ministers with independent technocrats.

On Monday, the Iraqi parliament approved five cabinet members under a reshuffle presented by Abadi, as part of his reforms aiming at fighting corruption.

The lawmakers voted for the ministers of oil, water resources, construction and housing, higher education and transport, but they failed to vote for a candidate for the ministry of trade.

The five new ministers were sworn in at the session that was attended by 210 legislators out of the 328-seat parliament.

The reshuffle was part of Abadi’s efforts for comprehensive reforms, including a cabinet reshuffle to replace ministers, who were chosen to balance Iraqi parties, ethnic and sectarian factions, with technocrats, in order to end corruption and provide better services.

Months of protests by Iraqis as well as legislators from various parties demanded an end to the quota system, which was created following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to control and divide Iraq’s resources among political parties.

Some political blocs and politicians apparently have been resisting the reforms because there is a lack of trust among the political parties who see that such reforms, or part of them, are marginalizing their factions from the political scene which was originally built on power-sharing agreements.

A series of failed reform measures have paralyzed Iraq’s government as the country struggles to fight the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which seizes parts of territories in northern and western Iraq, and faces an economic crisis sparked in part by a plunge in global oil prices.

Editor: yan