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Iraqi PM Proposes Major Reforms In Response To Protests

People shout slogans during a demonstration against corruption and poor services at Tahrir Square in central Baghdad on August 7.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has proposed major governmental reform in response to a wave of massive protests in recent weeks.

In a Facebook post on August 9, Abadi called for eliminating the positions of vice president and deputy prime minister as a way of reducing expenses and combatting corruption.

Abadi also called for an end to the practice of allocating government posts on the basis of party or sectarian quotas.

Abadi said there should be a "comprehensive and immediate reduction" in the number of bodyguards for state officials.

His seven-point plan also calls for an increase in the budget of the national security forces.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi

A spokesman for Abadi told journalists that the cabinet of ministers has approved the reform proposals.

Iraq has three vice presidents and three deputy prime ministers. Abadi's political rival -- former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki -- is currently a vice president.

Maliki expressed his support for the proposal on social media.

"I renew my position in support of reforms required by the political process and guided by the supreme religious authority [Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani], to the prime minister," tweeted Maliki, who remains an influential force in Iraqi politics.

Another vice president, Osama al-Nujaifi, also expressed support for the reform drive.

Earlier this month, Deputy Prime Minister for Energy Affairs Bahaa al-Aaraji accused the Maliki government of wasting some $1 trillion in oil revenues and international aid between 2004 and 2014.

On August 7, thousands of Iraqis across the country braved stifling heat to protest corruption and poor government services.

The country's spiritual leader, Sistani, on the same day called for Abadi to address the problem of corruption in the government.

Sistani called on Abadi to take "drastic measures" against corruption, saying that the "minor steps" he had announced were not enough.

Abadi's proposed reforms also must be approved by parliament.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and BBC
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