Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi managed to submit his ministerial nomination on as part of a cabinet reshuffle aimed at fighting corruption Thursday, state television reported.
Al-Abadi named Nizar Salem al-Numan as a candidate for the key post of oil minister, and 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 an initiative to form a technocrat government in the face of resistance from politicians who fear their entrenched interests could be hurt.
The established political parties fear a reshuffle could weaken patronage networks that have sustained their wealth and influence for more than a decade.
Abadi merged several portfolios and presented a list of 16 ministers while keeping the current defense and interior ministers, state television said earlier.
But Abadi has to fulfill his long-promised anti-corruption measures after his proposal, in August, to organize a sweeping reform package to combat corruption, cut government spending and merge ministries. Should he fail to deliver on his pledges, he risks weakening his government as Iraqi forces gear up to try and recapture the northern city of Mosul from ISIS.
Pressure is also coming from powerful Shi’ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who started a sit-in outside the Iraqi capital’s heavily fortified Green Zone 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.
Al-Sadr, however, told his supporters to end the sit-in after Abadi presented his new cabinet lineup.
In a televised speech, Sadr described Abadi’s proposed cabinet lineup as “courageous” and called on his supporters to withdraw from around the district that houses government offices and the parliament where they have been camping out for about two weeks.