Sunday, March 04, 2007

AP: Iraq's prime minister said Saturday he will reshuffle his Cabinet within two weeks and pursue criminal charges against political figures linked to extremists as a sign of his government's resolve to restore stability during the U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad. [...] Al-Maliki has been under pressure from the U.S. to bring order into his factious government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds since it took office last May. Rumors of Cabinet changes have surfaced before, only to disappear because of pressure from coalition members seeking to keep power. Nevertheless, al-Maliki said there would be a Cabinet reshuffle "either this week or next." After the changes are announced, al-Maliki said he would undertake a "change in the ministerial structure," presumably consolidating and streamlining the 39-member Cabinet. The prime minister did not say how many Cabinet members would be replaced. But some officials said about nine would lose their jobs, including all six Cabinet members loyal to radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, an al-Maliki ally.