Iraq's Abadi, in reform push, reduces ministerial adviser positions

Iraq's Abadi, in reform push, reduces ministerial adviser positions

BEIRUT - Reuters
Iraqs Abadi, in reform push, reduces ministerial adviser positions

Demonstrators chant slogans in support of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, depicted in poster, while riot police guard the provincial council building during a demonstration in Basra, 340 miles (550 kilometers) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. AP Photo

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on August 18 he was cancelling the positions of advisers hired as contractors in ministries and limiting the number of advisers for himself, the president, and the parliamentary speaker to five each. 

It was not immediately clear how many positions would be affected by the decision, which was announced in a post on Facebook. 

The sackings are the latest in a sweeping reform campaign launched last week aimed at reducing graft and incompetence in government, which critics say have deprived Iraqis of basic services while undermining government forces in their battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). 

Abadi's ambitious reform plan follows weeks of street protests in Baghdad and southern cities demanding better government services and a call by leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to "strike with an iron fist" against corruption. 

It is the biggest move yet by Abadi to strengthen his hand, even as large swaths of Iraq have fallen to ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militants from ISIL, and as the central government faces a financial crisis from the collapsing price of its oil exports. 

Abadi sacked a third of his cabinet on August 16, reducing the number of ministers to 22 by eliminating positions or combining some ministries with others. 

He moved earlier to eliminate the three vice president positions, cut politicians' security details and other perks, encourage corruption investigations and give himself the power to fire provincial governors and regional officials.