Powerful cleric al-Sadr calls for 'technocratic government' in Iraq
Iraq's influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for the inclusion of more technocrats in government and is threatening to withdraw from the political process if his proposal is not accepted.
Al-Sadr spoke on Saturday following Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's call for a cabinet reshuffle this week in an effort to break the current deadlock after months of stalled progress on a proposed reform package.
Abadi proposed the reforms following widespread protests in Iraq last summer demanding better services and an end to corruption.
The technocratic government, Sadr said, should include experts in their respective fields who have no "partisan biases or ambitions in power", and who should then be given a whole year to fulfill their tasks after obtaining confidence in parliament.
Sadr's call for reform comes as senior clerics in Najaf declared they would be reducing the number of politicised sermons, in a statement read two weaks ago by the representative of the religious authorities Abdul-Mahdi Karbalai.
Iraq is engaged in a humanitarian and security crisis that erupted as the Islamic State group swept across the country.
It is now also battling a crippling economic crisis that threatens to further choke the government's ability to provide basic domestic services.