Iraqi PM ready to resign as part of cabinet reshuffle

Haidar al-Abadi’s offer comes amid political struggle with opponents who seek to keep sectarian quota system in place.

Haider al-Abadi
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi came to power in 2014 [Wang Zhao/The Associated Press]

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has said he is ready to resign as part of a comprehensive reshuffle of his cabinet aimed at scrapping key governing posts based on sectarian lines.

Abadi’s announcement on Iraqi state TV on Monday comes amid a political struggle with his opponents who seek to keep the country’s sectarian quota system in place.

“I am ready to leave my post, and I am not holding on to it, but at the same time I am not evading my responsibilities, therefore if they want change, then I am ready for it,” Abadi said on Monday.


The announcement comes a week after Abadi said he wanted to appoint technocrats and reshuffle his cabinet, which was formed in 2014 and distributed posts based loosely on political blocs’ representation in parliament. 

Abadi said on Monday that a cabinet reshuffle is necessary, and warned against political opponents refusing his call to make a comprehensive change within the government – the parliament must approve ministerial changes and has blocked earlier reform efforts.

Abadi said some political groups, which he did not name, were obstructing the work of Iraqi ministers who were not affiliated with any political or sectarian group.

The current Iraqi political structure is a quota-based system in which each ethnic and religious group – such as Shia, Sunni, Christians Arabs, Kurds and others – is assigned its own specific representation in the parliament, government, and military.

Way forward

Walid Ibrahim, Al Jazeera’s Baghdad bureau chief, said Abadi’s proposed cabinet reshuffle is critical if he is to improve the government’s performance, as it is currently plagued by allegations of corruption and negligence.

The prime minister is seeking to replace his cabinet ministers whose appointments were based on an ethnic and sectarian quota system with a technocratic cabinet based on merit, experience and political independence.

READ MORE: Iraq cabinet backs PM Abadi’s sweeping reforms

He faces stiff opposition from his own “Al Dawa party” which is part of the parliamentary bloc known as “The State of law” – both the bloc and party are headed by the former prime minster Nouri al-Maliki.

Abadi came to power in 2014 after a political deal was struck to replace Maliki, who was seen by many in Iraq and the region as a divisive figure who led Shia agendas.

“If Abadi wants to move forward with his planned reshuffle, he would have to first convince his own political party that the way forward in Iraq is by staying away from sectarian and political appointees,” our correspondent said.

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters