Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has slashed the size of his cabinet by a third. This came as part of a push to implement political reforms in the face of protests against corruption and government mismanagement.
A statement released by the prime minister's office late on Sunday said that he had ordered that his cabinet be reduced from 33 to 22 ministers with immediate effect.
Among the positions to be eliminated are the three deputy prime minister posts, the minister of human rights, as well as the ministries of state for women's affairs and provincial affairs. At the same time, a number of other ministries are to be merged.
This comes as part of a push by the prime minister to implement political reforms in response to mass protests against corruption and bad government services, sparked in part by power shortages during a recent heat wave. The calls for reform have won the backing of the country's senior Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Last week, Iraqi lawmakers approved a package of reforms, which included abolishing the three positions of vice president, sidelining Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, Abadi's predecessor as prime minister.
In a further blow to al-Maliki, a parliamentary committee of investigation on Sunday called formore than 30 political and security officials - including the former premier - to be put on trial over the fall of Iraq's second city, Mosul, to "Islamic State" jihadists just over a year ago.
A report detailing the committee's findings was presented to the parliamentary speaker, Salim al-Juburi, who said he would pass it on to Iraq's prosecutor general for possible legal action.
"No one is above the law and accountability to the people," Juburi said a statement shortly after receiving the report. "The judiciary will punish perpetrators and delinquents," he added.
Capture of Mosul a 'turning point' for 'IS'
"Islamic State" (IS) militants launched an offensive on Mosul on June 9 of last year and overran it a day later. A number of Iraqi army divisions collapsed during the initial assault and fled, abandoning weapons and other equipment, which was then captured by the jihadists.
The fall of Mosul is regarded as a turning point in last year's push by IS fighters from Syria into Iraq, where they now control large swathes of territory in the north and west of the country.
Court-martial over withdrawal from Ramadi
Earlier on Sunday, Abadi's office announced that he had cleared the way for the military prosecution of senior commanders blamed for the fall of Ramadi four months ago.
IS fighters took control of Ramadi in May, after Iraqi forces had held them at bay for more than a year. The statement released by Abadi's office said he had approved "decisions of the investigative commission on the withdrawal of the Anbar Operations Command and units attached to it from the city of Ramadi."
pfd/bw (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)