Iraqis Protest as Political Deadlock Deepens

Iraqis Protest as Political Deadlock DeepensIraqis Protest as Political Deadlock Deepens

The third attempt to approve a new cabinet fails after dissenting MPs continue attempts to replace the speaker of parliament.

Protesters have taken to the streets in Baghdad to demand a new government, after the Iraqi Parliament cancelled its third session in a week to discuss political reforms, Al Jazeera reported.

Saturday’s session was scrapped because “parliament couldn’t be secured” by security forces, said a statement from the office of the speaker, Salim al-Jabouri, whose position is under threat as some legislators are seeking to replace him. The political crisis centers around divisions over a plan by Iraqi Premier Haider al-Abadi to bring technocrats into the Cabinet to check corruption.

On March 31, Abadi presented a list of independent professionals whom he hoped could free ministries from the grip of dominant political groups. But under pressure from leading politicians, he drafted a second list this week based on party links.

The modified list, which Abadi had planned to present for a vote, prompted a sit-in by MPs who say it will allow corruption to continue to flourish. The dissenting MPs, who accuse the speaker, Jabouri, of blocking reforms, said that they would meet on Monday to elect a new assembly leader.

The protesters include followers of influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who on Saturday issued a statement asking all the ministers to immediately resign, even those in Abadi’s Dawa party.

Sadr pledged to start protests in 72 hours, if the nation’s leaders failed to vote on a technocrats’ Cabinet. “If these conditions are not met, then let it be known that the people will decide,” he said in a handwritten statement.