Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-‘Abadi has given the country’s political parties an extension on his demand that they submit candidates as “technocrat ministers” – a demand that was set to expire on 16 March. The deadline appears to have been extended to the end of the month due to resistance of political blocs to Mr ‘Abadi’s “reform” plans, Iraqi daily al-Mada reports. But the reasons for this resistance vary.

Mr ‘Abadi’s “technocrat” gambit – a demand that every member of the current cabinet, each of them a senior member of a political bloc, be replaced with professionals and academics – was a response to his failure to establish himself as a champion of reform following popular anti-corruption protests last summer. This was partially due to his loss of support among protesters after he failed to prosecute even a single figure tied to the dominant parties for corruption, but it was also due to unanimous rejection among political factions of his 16 August decree unilaterally removing one-third of the cabinet by merging their ministries with others. (CONTINUED - 1199 WORDS)