March 30, 2016 / 3:23 PM / 2 years ago

Iraqi PM to present new cabinet lineup to parliament on Thursday

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi arrives to attend a joint news conference with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the end of a meeting at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said he would present to parliament on Thursday his new cabinet lineup aimed at fighting corruption, in keeping with a deadline set by the legislature earlier in the week.

Abadi announced more than six weeks ago that he wanted to replace current ministers with independent technocrats but has faced 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 government just as Iraqi forces are gearing up to try and recapture the northern city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.

“Parliament must make up its mind and proceed with reforms including the cabinet reshuffle which it and citizens have been calling for,” Abadi said in a statement posted on his website on Wednesday.

It was unclear whether the parliament would approve the new cabinet lineup.

On Tuesday Abadi had appealed to lawmakers for guidance on whether to appoint party politicians or independent technocrats to the cabinet, but parliament speaker Salim al-Jabouri said on Wednesday it was for Abadi to decide.

Powerful Shi‘ite Muslim leader Moqtada al-Sadr, who started a sit-in near parliament on Sunday and leads a bloc with three ministers in the current government, is pushing Abadi to appoint nominees unaffiliated with political parties.

A separate sit-in staged by his supporters has locked down central Baghdad for most of the past week.

Reporting by Stephen Kalin and Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Gareth Jones

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