Iraq: protesters demand new government

People began protesting in Baghdad this weekend demanding a new government amid the third parliament session cancelled this week as officials discuss political reforms. The session of parliament was cancelled because the chambers "could not be secured" as tempers flared again. The political turmoil has been the result of a plan by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to bring "technocrats" into the cabinet in order to bring down corruption. On March 31, al-Abadi presented a list of people to attempt to accomplish this, but then drafted a second list after political pressure that was more in line with party's wishes. Many MP's then staged a sit-in protest of this move, as they believed it would allow corruption to continue.

Iraq has faced significant challenges in recent years with providing basic infrastructure and a stable government. Last week, members of parliament voted to remove speaker Salim al-Juburi after accusing him of blocking reforms. The move was one of many cabinet membership questions that have led to chaos in the chambers. Protests began in August, when Iraq's cabinet approved a proposal by al-Abadi to reduce the number of top political positions, decrease spending, and restart a corruption investigation program. A vice presidential position currently held by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki was among those to be eliminated. Those in favor of the changes say they are needed for the government to operate more effectively, but opponents say they concentrate too much power in al-Abadi.

From Jurist, April 17. Used with permission.