Baghdad- After announcing a 25- bulleted plan to “rescue” Iraq, Leader of the Sadrist Movement Muqtada al-Sadr declared, on Tuesday, assembling a thorough cabinet for parliament to vote on. However, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hastily rejected al-Sadr’s proposition.
After al-Sadr convening, in Najaf, with his reform committee he told reporters that “the committee has completed assembling an independent ministerial cabinet which will be placed in the hands of PM al-Abadi”
“This, highly adequate, cabinet must be placed in the hands of Iraqis,” he added.
The cabinet is proof of forming a government not compromised by sects and partisanship. It is now in the hands of the current government, and – using a threatening undertone- if guarantees on implementing reform are presented, in turn we will present reassurances not to escalate, Al-Sadr said.
On the other hand, committee leader Samy A’zara said that the cabinet comprises 90 Iraqi figureheads, among which are university professors, to-be-assigned ministers and representatives. “The committee has chosen 4-5 people from each ministry… and it is up to the government now,” he added.
Meanwhile al-Sadr hinted a potential rise of dispute, should his reform recommendations are not guaranteed implementation, PM al-Abadi , with head-turning U.S. backing , took no second thought on rejecting al-Sadr’s proposed cabinet.
State of Law Coalition led by Nouri al-Maliki also refused al-Sadr’s formation, which was rendered illegitimate and a violating confiscation of the opinion of other political parties who contribute to the country.
MP Jasem Mohammed Jafar told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that “al-Sadr proposed to a new cabinet PM al-Abadi, without negotiating with parliament bodies.”
“And thus, this approach is a violation to legitimacy, and even if put to vote, will not receive the votes of anyone but Sadrist movement parliament members.”
He emphasized that the time interval PM al-Abadi has given political parties ends next Saturday, which translates into nine minsters being relieved from duty.
The Iraqi PM had requested political parties to name substitutes which will replace resigned members, and if no names are received within a week, he will be naming the nine replacements. This would be the first step towards ministerial change, MP Jafar added.
Among those who are subject to replacement according to PM al-Abadi’s reform measures, are Minister of Foreign Affairs Ibrahim al-Jaafari, belonging to National Reform Trend, Finance Minister in the Interim government Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Minister of Housing and Reconstruction, Minister of Finance and Minister of Interior Baqir Jabr al-Zubeidi.
Al-Abadi completely undercut the significance of al-Sadr’s ministerial proposal.
A leader in the Sadrist movement, who requested anonymity, said that “there are no current instructions from al-Sadr on what measures would be taken in case of the committee’s proposal being ignored.”
As for the possible measures, the leader said: “we clearly stated that protests will continue, with an enraged crowd which the political strata should acknowledge the risk it represents- in reference to a preceding al-Sadr threat on invading the Green Zone.”
Iraq, with crude oil reserves among the largest in the world, ranks 161 out of 168 in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015.
“Allocate a share for each Iraqi citizen from the oil revenues,” he said in a speech detailing proposals to end graft, improve public services and revive the economy. He gave no detail on how this might be done.
Sadr’s followers have been staging protests for about a month demanding a new government be formed with technocrats not affiliated with political parties in order to fight rampant corruption.
The cleric didn’t specify if his demand on distribution of oil revenue to the population was a condition to end the protests.