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Iraqi Prime Minister Asks Parliament For Guidance On New Cabinet Lineup

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi speaks at a press conference in February 2016.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi on March 29 asked for guidance from parliament on whether he should appoint party politicians or independent technocrats to a new cabinet.

"It is not wise to present a ministerial lineup that faces rejection by parliament," Abadi said in televised remarks, calling on lawmakers to clarify their position.

The parliament set a deadline of March 31 for appointing a new lineup of ministers. While Abadi has vowed to replace political appointees with technocrats, he has been blocked from previous efforts by powerful politicians in parliament, including some from his own party who want to preserve Iraq's system of political patronage.

Powerful Shi'ite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rejected Abadi's request for guidance, however, and threatened to push for a no-confidence vote if Abadi does not quickly appoint technocrats as promised.

Sadr's supporters have been holding protests in Baghdad's Green Zone demanding that Abadi appoint technocrats and make good on pledges to fight corruption in the government.

Iraq ranked 161 out of 168 on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index in 2015.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP