Iraq slims unity cabinet
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Last Updated: Saturday, July 30, 2011, 23:01
Baghdad: MPs slashed the size of Iraq's national unity cabinet by a third on Saturday after a visit to parliament by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who has called for his bloated government to be slimmed down.

The deal immediately cut 14 junior minister posts. It came with a key decision looming on whether any US soldiers will remain in Iraq beyond a year-end withdrawal deadline and ahead of next week's start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan when life almost comes to a standstill.

"There has been a consensus and this is something good," Maliki told a news conference following a closed-door meeting with MPs during a rare visit by the premier to parliament.

"Today, parliament listened to our ideas and the result was them accepting our programme and removing, dismissing or dispensing with the ministers of state," he added, lamenting the "flabbiness" of the government.

Of 17 minister of state posts, including eight ministers without portfolio, only three will remain -- women's affairs, parliamentary affairs and provincial affairs.

As a result, the size of the cabinet will drop from 46 to 32.

A statement posted on parliament's website said of 183 MPs present, a majority voted in favour of the measures. No tally of votes was available.

A parliamentary official said the cuts were the first in a three-stage process that would see 10 cabinet-level ministries merged into five, and a swathe of senior officials sacked.

The second stage of the process would require a new law to be passed, however, the official noted, speaking on condition of anonymity.


First Published: Saturday, July 30, 2011, 23:01

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