Iraqi MPs stage parliament sit-in to protest power grip
Dozens of Iraqi legislators have held a sit-in in parliament to express their outrage over alleged attempts by a number of political parties and blocs to maintain their influence over key posts.
It came after the prime minister presented a modified line-up on Tuesday after his initial cabinet list was blocked.
Nearly 80 lawmakers took part in the sit-in inside the parliament hall around midday on Wednesday, with some chanting, “Yes yes to reform, no no to quotas!”
Parliament was to hold an emergency session on Wednesday at the request of lawmakers. The vote on the modified cabinet list is planned on Thursday.
The parliament voted on March 28 to give Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi a three-day deadline by which to present his new government or face a vote of no-confidence.
Abadi presented a list of nominees for ministries at the end of March, but some political blocs then proposed their own candidates.
Most of those on Abadi’s list were substituted with new names on a second list distributed among lawmakers on Tuesday.
Lawmaker Zainab al-Tai said the striking MPs are now demanding the resignation of Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, PM Abadi and President Fuad Masum.
More than 150 lawmakers, who make up around half of parliament, have voiced their support for the measures, Tai claimed.
MP Iskander Witwit said lawmakers from all the political blocs were taking part in the sit-in, adding it would continue until the demands of the lawmakers were implemented.
On March 29, senior Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met with Abadi ahead of a deadline set for the premier to enact political reforms.
The meeting came after Sadr began a promised sit-in inside Baghdad’s Green Zone on March 27, vowing to continue the protest action until the government fulfilled its pledges for reforms in order to tackle corruption.
The cleric stopped the action after the Iraqi prime minister presented a list with the names of candidates for ministries.
Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has reportedly expressed his conditional support for the reshuffle if the changes do not affect less than nine ministries.
Maliki is currently the secretary general of the Islamic Dawa Party.