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Iraqi Premier To Elevate Technocrats, Demote Politicos In Cabinet

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced he will replace politically appointed ministers in his cabinet with technocrats and academics.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi has announced that he will reshuffle his cabinet and appoint technocrats to replace ministers appointed because of their political affiliations.

"I call for fundamental change to the cabinet to include professional and technocratic figures and academics," Abadi said in a speech broadcast on state television on February 9.

The premier called on parliament "and all the political blocs to cooperate with us in this serious phase."

Iraqi ministries are divided up between the country's leading political blocs, which are often more concerned with distributing patronage than with effective governance.

Attempts to change the status quo have been met by resistance from politicians and their supporters who have a stake in the current state of affairs.

Emboldened last summer by popular protests and a call for action by Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Abadi unilaterally moved at the time to dismantle the country's patronage system and root out corruption.

His reform campaign soon got bogged down by legal challenges and opposition from entrenched interests, however. He has since been criticized for failing to take decisive action.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters