The office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the removal of 123 deputy ministers and director generals on Wednesday amid an unprecedented reform drive aimed at curbing corruption and streamlining the government.
The officials were either retired or had their status changed, the statement said, without specifying what that entailed, or how many fell into each category.
Amid a major heatwave that has seen temperatures top 50 degrees Celsius (120 degrees Fahrenheit), thousands of people have protested in Baghdad and cities in the Shiite south to vent their anger and pressure the authorities to make changes.
Their demands were given a boost when top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called on August 7 for Abadi to take 'drastic measures' against corruption.
Parliament has signed off on a reform plan proposed by Abadi as well as additional measures, and the prime minister has begun issuing orders for changes, including cutting 11 cabinet posts and slashing the bloated number of guards for officials.
But even with popular support and backing from Sistani, the fact that parties across Iraq’s political spectrum benefit from graft is a major obstacle to the nascent reform effort.