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Iraq slims unity cabinet

MPs slashed the size of Iraq`s national unity cabinet by a third on Saturday.

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

"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

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


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