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Iraq's Abadi Reduces Ministerial Adviser Positions

FILE - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, right, holds a new conference at Baghdad airport, April 13, 2015.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday he was cancelling the positions of advisers hired as contractors in ministries and limiting the number of advisers for himself, the president, and the parliamentary speaker to five each.

It was not immediately clear how many positions would be affected by the decision, which was announced in a post on Facebook.

The sackings are the latest in a sweeping reform campaign launched last week aimed at reducing graft and incompetence in government, which critics say have deprived Iraqis of basic services while undermining government forces in their battle against the Islamic State group.

Abadi's ambitious reform plan follows weeks of street protests in Baghdad and southern cities demanding better government services and a call by leading Shi'ite Muslim cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani to "strike with an iron fist" against corruption.

It is the biggest move yet by Abadi to strengthen his hand, even as large swaths of Iraq have fallen to ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militants from Islamic State, and as the central government faces a financial crisis from the collapsing price of its oil exports.

Abadi sacked a third of his cabinet on Sunday, reducing the number of ministers to 22 by eliminating positions or combining some ministries with others.

He moved earlier to eliminate the three vice president positions, cut politicians' security details and other perks, encourage corruption investigations and give himself the power to fire provincial governors and regional officials.