Iraq's Abadi, facing unrest, hopes anti-graft cabinet can be named in coming days

Mon Apr 18, 2016
10:10am BST

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, threatened with mass protests over delays in tackling corruption, voiced hope on Monday that Iraq's parliament could vote "in the next few days" on a cabinet of non-party technocrats.

On Saturday, powerful Shi'ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr warned he would call for major street unrest if the nation's leaders fail by Tuesday afternoon to name a technocratic cabinet geared to weeding out graft and mismanagement.

Delays in naming a new government, and political and

sectarian wrangling over who should be in it, have paralysed

politics in Iraq. Parliament has already postponed the vote on Abadi's government overhaul three times.

Abadi has said political turmoil could jeopardise the armed forces' campaign against Islamic State militants who still control large tracts of territory in the north and west of Iraq, including the city of Mosul.

Iraq, a major OPEC exporter which sits on one of the world's

largest crude reserves, ranks a low 161 out of 168 countries on

Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index.

"I am looking forward to parliament performing its legislative and supervisory role fully, and voting on the ministerial change in the coming days and as soon as possible,'' Abadi said in a statement on his website.

He called on parliament "to convene immediately in order to overcome the obstacles" - a reference to a dispute between MPs about the legitimacy of speaker Salim al-Jabouri.

A large bloc in parliament is refusing to meet under Jabouri's chairmanship, blaming him for not holding a session where they can grill Abadi on his proposed cabinet line-up.

Jabouri blamed the prime minister's no-show at a session he called for on Thursday.

Corruption and fiscal mismanagement became a major issue in Iraq after oil prices collapsed in 2014, shrinking the state budget at a time when it needed additional income to pay for the war against Islamic State.