Massive anti-corruption protests led by Muqtada al-Sadr have come to a head, and the Iraqi parliament has formally given Prime Minister Haider Abadi just three additional days to present a new cabinet of technocrats, fulfilling a pledge he made six weeks ago.
Top Iraqi Shi’ite religious leader Ayatollah Ali Sistani had blasted the Abadi government in February over its inability to get a handle on corruption, leading to the announcement, and Sadr has organized protests in Baghdad for several weeks over the lack of progress on appointments.
The expectation is that replacing well-connected politicians with experts in key cabinet positions would limit the opportunities for embezzlement in those ministries, though Abadi has been dragging his feet on offering candidates for those roles, asking for more and more input from existing ministers.
The parliament’s new ultimatum threatens a vote of no confidence if Abadi fails to deliver the new cabinet in time, something that many have been anticipating for months, as Abadi’s waning popularity has meant his days are numbered.
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