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Iraq PM fires senior cabinet officials

August 12, 2015

Iraqi head of government Haider al-Abadi has dismissed his cabinet secretary, formerly a close aide to ex-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The move comes during a large reform drive to boost the government's authority.

Irak Premier Haider al-Abadi
Image: Reuters/K. al-Mousily

The secretary general of the cabinet was removed from his position on Wednesday, alongside his two deputies, al-Abadi's office said in a statement.

The statement did not provide a reason for the sacking.

However, an official in al-Abadi's media office described the prime minister's move as "part of a push to cut unnecessary government jobs."

Al-Abadi recently launched a crucial overhaul of the Iraqi political system, including a package of measures aimed to strengthen his own power and reduce the influence of numerous high officials.

On Tuesday, Iraq's parliament unanimously backed al-Abadi's initiative to eliminate a layer of senior government posts and reopen corruption investigations.

The reform package also scraps sectarian and party quotas for state positions, and gives the prime minister power to fire regional and provincial bosses.

Western government have praised the reform drive, which is also backed by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most powerful cleric.

Resistance to reform

In a television speech on Wednesday, al-Abadi warned of "sabotage" from the old system.

"The corrupt will not sit idly by," al-Abadi said. "Those with interests and privileges will defend their interests and privileges. Some of them will even fight for them. They will attempt to sabotage every step we take towards it."

The Iraqi prime minister also warned against politicization of the powerful Shiite militias.

"We should remove the Hashid Shaabi from the political field," he said, referring to a government body that act as an umbrella for the armed groups.

The Shiite fighters have grown in influence after the official Iraqi army suffered a series of defeats by the "Islamic State" group.

Al-Abadi took power after the army's collapse in Mosul last summer, and has been struggling to enforce his authority against corruption and numerous overlapping posts filled by representatives of Iraq's various ethnic groups.

dj/gsw (Reuters, AFP)