World Bulletin / News Desk
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi accepted the resignation of six members of his government, including the ministers of interior, industry, petroleum, transportation, housing and construction and water resources.
The following day, Hussein al-Shahristani, minister of higher education and scientific research, also resigned, leaving a total of seven ministerial portfolios vacant.
On Thursday, al-Sadr hailed the mass resignations and urged remaining cabinet members to do likewise.
"I commend and support the prime minister’s decision to accept these resignations," the firebrand cleric said in a statement.
"I hope the rest [i.e., remaining government ministers] will give priority to the public interest and answer the demands of the people by also submitting their resignations," he asserted.
Resignations, he added, "should not be limited to government ministers but should extend to all government positions".
Al-Sadr said vital government portfolios should go to "independent technocrats" who would "work for the benefit of Iraq and not for the benefit of the parties they represent".
He also called for the recently-resigned ministers to be held accountable for alleged corruption and urged parliament to convene an emergency session in which new ministers might be appointed.
The appointment of new ministers, he asserted, "has nothing to do with plans to liberate areas now held by [extremist group] ISIL. I hope the planned anti-ISIL operations will not be used as a pretext to postpone ministerial appointments."
In recent months, al-Sadr’s supporters have frequently hit the streets of capital Baghdad to protest widespread government corruption and demand sweeping government reforms.