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The New Arab

Iraq holds parliamentary session to vote on new cabinet

Iraqi forces were widely deployed around the fortified Green Zone [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 March, 2016

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A parliamentary session to form a new cabinet reshuffle kicks off in Iraq on Thursday amid mounting pressure on Haider al-Abadi to deliver on promises of political reforms.
A parliamentary session to vote on a cabinet reshuffle kicked off in Iraq Thursday morning, with 255 of 328 lawmakers in attendance as pressure mounted on prime minister Haider al-Abadi for political reforms and an end to corruption.

During the session, Abadi will present his ministerial nominations for a new government as he will need at least 180 votes to pass a new cabinet line-up.

A number of Sunni politicians have demanded a complete cabinet reshuffle while Shia MPs are divided in their stance on a new government.

Meanwhile, Kurdish politicians have called for a greater representation in the new cabinet, demanding 20 percent of the new ministers to be Kurdish.

It is expected that foreign minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and defence minister Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi will maintain their position in the new government, a senior Iraqi official told The New Arab.

A new cabinet may be announced when the session comes to a close Thursday afternoon.

Ahead of the parliamentary session, the Iraqi capital's heavily fortified Green Zone was completely sealed off and Iraqi forces were widely deployed around the area, The New Arab correspondent reported.

Thousands of followers of influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continue their staged sit-in outside Green Zone, demanding political reforms.

"Today we are at the entrance of the Green Zone and tomorrow we will be within it," the cleric warned the government on Sunday.

More than six weeks ago, Abadi announced his intention to replace current ministers with independent technocrats, but his announcement was faced with resistance from rivals who fear it could weaken the political patronage networks that have sustained their wealth and influence for more than a decade.

Failing to deliver on long-promised anti-corruption measures could weaken Abadi's position just as Iraqi forces are gearing up to recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.

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