The Iraqi parliament moved to delay a vote on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s new cabinet nominees, after Abadi gave them the opportunity Tuesday to alter his original list of picks.
Abadi originally handed a list of his proposed nominees to lawmakers last month, but he faced major resistance as different political blocs wanted to make their own nominations. That feedback process then resulted in the current list of names being distributed throughout parliament.
Abadi has called for the government to be run by experts, rather than politically affiliated ministers, but the political parties pushed back in order to maintain the patronage system they rely on to stay in power.
Of the original list of 13 appointees, just four of the names remain on the new list released Tuesday.
The nominees for water resources, health and transportation stayed the same, while a fourth nominee from the original list became a candidate for the planning ministry.
One Sunni lawmaker, Ahmed al-Juburi said that nearly one in three MPs opposed the new list of nominees. As the session ended Tuesday and the delay was announced, lawmakers began showing their opposition to the nominees with shaking fists and chants against what they see as a political quota system.
Lawmakers in the chambers can be heard on video chanting “The people want the fall of quotas,” a variation on the phrase, “The people want the fall of the regime,” which was a rallying cry during the Arab Spring protests.
Juburi claimed to have gathered the names of 98 lawmakers who are opposed to the nominees and who reject the “principles of quotas that [were] agreed upon by the leaders of the blocs.”
In February, Abadi called for “fundamental” change to the government and called for the inclusion of academic and professional figures in the Cabinet. Since then he has proposed several reform measures that have been delayed or otherwise undermined by parties and politicians with vested interests in keeping the current system running.