Iraqi Turkmen on Saturday continued to protest the dissolution of Iraq’s Human Rights Ministry last week, which had been headed by the country’s only Turkmen minister.
On Friday, Turkmen demonstrators blocked the Kirkuk-Baghdad highway to protest last week’s decision, finally reopening it early Saturday afternoon.
“The highway has now been reopened in both directions after a two-day blockage,” Muhammet Oce, deputy governor of Iraq’s Saladin Province, through which the highway runs, confirmed to Anadolu Agency.
Last Sunday, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office announced the reduction of the number of cabinet portfolios from 33 to 22.
The move – part of a raft of reforms aimed at fighting corruption and streamlining bureaucracy – included the dissolution of the Human Rights Ministry, headed by Mohamed Mahdi Bayati, Iraq’s only Turkmen cabinet minister.
Al-Abadi’s decision triggered an angry reaction from Turkmen political figures, who blasted the elimination of the country’s only Turkmen-led ministry and demanded that either it be restored or that Bayati be given another portfolio.
“While I support the prime minister’s efforts to fight corruption, the [human rights] ministry should not be done away with,” Arshad Salihi, president of the Turkmen front in parliament, had told Anadolu Agency at the time.
“The government should include at least one Turkmen minister,” he added.
Along with dissolving Bayati’s ministry, al-Abadi’s decision also eliminated three deputy premierships, the Ministry of State for Women's Affairs, the Ministry of State for Provincial Affairs, and the Ministry of State.
Five other cabinet portfolios, meanwhile, were subsumed under a single ministry.