BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The governor of Iraq’s Anbar province said on Thursday he was sacking all aides as part of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s crackdown on corruption and incompetence to boost the government in its battle against Islamic State insurgents.
The announcement came two days after parliament unanimously approved Abadi’s sweeping reform plan — the biggest shake-up in Iraq’s governing system since the U.S. military occupation.
His reform drive is especially important in Anbar, the Sunni heartland in western Iraq where the Baghdad government is focusing its offensive against Islamic State, which has seized large swathes of the country’s north and west including the Anbar capital Ramadi.
Anbar Governor Sohaib al-Rawi said he was dismissing all of his aides and advisers as well as district managers who had been in their posts for more than four years or had performed poorly.
Echoing language used by Abadi, Rawi said future appointments would be made “on the basis of experience and competence” and “according to need and specialization”. He said the changes came in response to calls for change from Iraqis and as part of Abadi’s reform plan.
Abadi’s initiative eliminates entire layers of government, scraps sectarian and party quotas for state positions, reopens corruption investigations and gives the premier the power to fire regional and provincial bosses.
Abadi, a Shi’ite Muslim, has sought to transform a system which critics say has encouraged graft and incompetence, depriving Iraqis of basic services while undermining government forces in the battle against Islamic State.
Large tracts of Iraq have fallen to the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim militants and the central government faces a financial crisis because of the collapsing price of Iraqi oil exports.
Reporting by Saif Hameed in Baghdad and Stephen Kalin in Beirut; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Mark Heinrich