Iraqi parliament votes overwhelmingly for reforms

Parliament approves PM Haider al-Abbadi's reform package after mounting protests against corruption and poor services.

    Iraq's parliament has voted unanimously to approve Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi's reform package, after mass protests against corruption and poor services.

    Politicians approved the plan without debate on Tuesday, in a dramatic departure from the heated arguments and delays that have slowed previous efforts to enact reforms or approve important laws.

    Iraq's most revered Shia religious leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, had backed the plan, which was announced on Sunday amid mounting public pressure.

    Abbadi had proposed measures to reduce corruption and save money in the face of mounting unrest.

    They include eliminating a layer of senior government positions, ending sectarian and party quotas for state positions, reducing officials' benefits and reopening corruption investigations.

    Emboldened by widespread anti-government protests and a call by Sistani for tougher action, Abbadi announced measures over the weekend aimed at reforming a system critics say hands high office to unqualified candidates and encourages corruption.

    Thousands of people have turned out in Baghdad and various cities in the south to vent their anger at the authorities [Reuters]

    He proposed scrapping Iraq's multiple vice president and deputy prime minister positions, currently doled out along sectarian lines.

    Parliament also approved on Tuesday its own package of reforms to sack the ministers of finance and electricity, cut the number of ministries, reduce the size of officials' security details and reform the judicial system.

    Abbadi, who has struggled to build broad support for reform, received a boost from Sistani in his sermon last Friday.

    Ayatollah Sistani, whom few Iraqi politicians would openly challenge, urged Abbadi to "strike with an iron fist" against corruption.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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