Abadi Moves To Dismiss Nine Ministers
Salam Zidane / Yalla – Baghdad
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has rejected reform proposals demanded by the leader of the Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr, who in response urged his supporters to protest in the Baghdad Green Zone, where government headquarters and foreign embassies are based, against the Islamic Dawa Party.
“Negotiations between the leader of the Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi about an agreement to implement real reforms collapsed last week. This led al-Sadr to issue a statement in which he urged his supporters to protest outside government buildings inside the Green Zone,” a source close to the leader of the Sadrist Movement told I. “Al-Sadr pressured Abadi to accept his reform proposals and the decisions made by the committee he has formed, but Abadi reiterated that his latest reforms will put the country on the correct path, and he won’t accept al-Sadr’s demands.”
The source explained that a delegation from the political blocs visited al-Sadr to request he retract his order, as protests would create significant chaos threatening the security of Baghdad.
“Al-Sadr refused, because authorities didn’t grant permission for protesters to demonstrate outside the buildings of the Council of Ministers and the Council of Representatives,” he added.
Mahdi al-Alaq, director of the Prime Minister’s office, has written to all political blocs asking them to submit names of technocrat ministerial candidates before 16 March. Despite this many Iraqis believe that Abadi’s latest reforms are similar to previous one and are “mere ink on paper”.
Yalla obtained a copy of a statement issued today by the Council of Ministers, in which it advises against holding demonstrations.
“Although the Council of Ministers endorses and supports the reform demands of the protesters and is keen on protecting them as it has in the last few months, it stresses that protests have to be held according to the rules, and prior permission must be obtained from the relevant authorities. According to the law, currently protests are not allowed due to the security situation, the threats posed by the terrorist groups and the possibility of attacks, and the engagement of the security forces in the fight against Daesh [ISIL] and the inability to provide adequate protection for the protesters.”
State of Law Coalition member Jasim Mohammed Jaafar, who is close to Abadi told Yalla that the protests destabilise the general situation in the country because if they are held outside government headquarter buildings they will obstruct access for politicians. “There are those who attempt to put a spoke in the wheels of the reforms through delays in submitting their candidates, but I believe Abadi will present his new cabinet to the Parliament on the 16th of this month,” he said.
“If an agreement isn’t reached by the political blocs regarding the expected cabinet reshuffle, Abadi will dismiss nine ministers and keep the quorum to hold a cabinet meeting and replace them with ministers he believes are capable of saving the country from the current situation,” he added. “The positions are divided as follows, five from Iraqi National Alliance, three from Iraqi Forces Union and one from the Kurdistan Alliance.”
Jaafar al-Musawi, a parliamentary leader from the Sadrist Movement, indicated that the protests could bring life to a halt for ten days, and Abadi has to admit his incompetence if the time limit of 45 days runs out.
“The Sadrist Movement is supportive of Abadi trying to push through reforms and holding the corrupt accountable,” he said. “The Iraqi nation’s voice will be heard through the demonstrations, and if Abadi doesn’t meet their demands, he will have to step down and stay out of the cabinet.”
The Kurdistan Alliance is amongst the opposition to Abadi’s reforms because of the secrecy that surrounds their implementation, and the refusal to involve political blocs in reaching an agreement that satisfies all parties.
“The Kurdistan Alliance supports reforms that serve the country and brings it security, but it’s necessary to keep the Kurdish ministerial share in the Council of Ministers at 20%,” Masood Haider, member of the Kurdistan Alliance told Yalla. “What is written on the documents is different to what happens on the ground, therefore ministers should be assessed regularly and held accountable for any failures.”
The Iraqi Forces Union has endured paralysing disagreements among members of its bloc in selecting candidates, and has stressed the importance of changing its approach in selecting officials to run the country.
“The political parties that have ruled the country since 2003 have failed,” Mohammed al-Karbouli, member of the Iraqi Forces Union said. “An opportunity should be given to civilians to rule the country through forming an independent Technocrat Government.”