Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric calls for government reforms

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Iraq's influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr is calling for the inclusion of more technocrats in government and is threatening to withdraw from the political process if his proposal is not accepted.

Al-Sadr spoke Saturday following Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's call for a Cabinet reshuffle this week in an effort to break the current deadlock after months of stalled progress on a proposed reform package.

Al-Abadi proposed the reforms following widespread protests in Iraq last summer demanding better services and an end to corruption.

Iraq is engaged in a humanitarian and security crisis that erupted as the Islamic State group swept across the country. It is now also battling a crippling economic crisis that threatens to further choke the government's ability to provide basic domestic services.