Iraq parliament postpones vote on new Cabinet nominees

Friday 08/04/2016
Fundamental change is needed

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament has delayed a vote on new Cabinet nominees presented by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi after weeks of pressure from an influential Shiite cleric and thousands of his followers.

Tuesday's postponement followed al-Abadi's proposed draft of new Cabinet ministers last month that reduced the number of seats from 21 to 16.

He left ministers of defense and interior in place due to the ongoing war against the Islamic State group in the country's north and west.

The measure saw instant opposition from Iraq's powerful political blocs, which rely on patronage systems to remain in power.

Several of the Cabinet nominees withdrew from the list, claiming they didn't desire the posts.

Abadi has called for "fundamental" change to the cabinet so that it includes "professional and technocratic figures and academics", and presented a list of nominees to parliament last week.

But powerful Iraqi parties and politicians rely on control of ministries for patronage and funds, and lawmakers have said the political blocs are nominating other candidates.

This may perpetuate the system of party-affiliated ministers, which would be a blow to the premier's agenda and reputation.

Iraq is grappling with entrenched corruption, exacerbated by a deepening financial crisis and the fight against the ISIS group.