Top Shi’ite cleric of Iraq wants not to stall Abadi’s reforms
On last Friday, Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric warned parliament not to use concerns over the legality of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s reforms as a tactic to block them.
On Monday, parliament voted unanimously barring government from passing out important reforms without approval of the members of parliament.
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said, “The need to protect the constitution and the law must not be used by the legislative or any other authority to circumvent or delay the reform steps.”
Sistani is notably one of the most influential personalities in Iraq. Empowered by popular protests and a call by Sistani, whose opinion few Iraqi politicians would openly challenge, Abadi announced measures in August aimed at dismantling a patronage system and rooting out the incompetence that has undermined Baghdad’s battle against militants.
State television attributed that an unnamed source in his office insisting that salaries for the three vice presidents and three deputy prime ministers, whose positions were set to be eliminated by the changes, had in fact been stopped months ago.
The source added, “They do not exercise any government capacity. There is no going back on that.”
“No withdrawal of authorization or obstacles (set by) corrupt ones can stop the march of reform.”
Demonstrators in Baghdad and other cities braved the threat of violence and extreme heat last summer to protest against graft and demand better water and electricity services. Abadi responded with reforms that included eliminating a layer of senior government posts, sacking a third of the cabinet, cutting politicians’ security details and perks, and reopening corruption probes.
However, protests faded as the measures bogged down due to legal challenges and political infighting. Last week, more than 60 members of the ruling coalition threatened to withdraw parliamentary support for reforms unless Abadi heeded their demands for wider consultation.
Parliament has deemed some reforms a violation of the constitution, including the dismissal of the vice presidents.
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