By Simon Kent.
Hard-line cleric Moqtada al Sadr has given PM Haider al Abadi (pictured) until this afternoon to announce new nominees for a new "technocratic cabinet," a reform idea first touted in February, although the composition of the cabinet will depend on parliament.
Abadi has called on parliament "to convene immediately in order to overcome the obstacles," but his initial selection of a non-partisan, technically qualified cabinet was dogged by accusations that he had not consulted anyone on the plan. As such, only 4 of his 14 proposed new ministers have been accepted.
Critically, one of the posts is for oil, with former director general of South Oil Company Jabbar Allibi tipped for the post. Another position, for Water Resources, is being headed by experienced technocrat and former diplomat Hasan Janabi
Other posts will be much harder to push through, and key Abadi ally, parliament speaker Salim al Jubbouri has already been removed in a vote of no confidence.
Some analysts suggest Abadi may have taken on too big a challenge with the reform plan, noting that rival parties do not want to let go of the massive hiring power that ministries command, although budgets are of course depleted.
The current uncertainty will bring new challenges to Iraq, including the possibility of disrupting further IMF and World Bank loans.