Reuters International

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Ali Allawi, whom Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi nominated last week to serve as finance minister in a new technocratic government, withdrew his candidacy on Wednesday, citing "political interventions and partisan bickering".

Allawi is at least the second ministerial candidate to pull out. The nominee for oil minister withdrew on Friday, apparently because he had not been formally put forward by the main Kurdish groups.

Abadi presented parliament on Thursday with a list of 14 names, many of them academics, to free the ministries from the grip of a political class that has used the system of ethnic and sectarian quotas instituted after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to amass wealth and influence through corruption.

The move, which threatens to weaken patronage networks that sustain the elite's wealth and influence, shocked the political establishment that has ruled Iraq since the removal of Saddam Hussein.

Allawi said in a letter dated April 6, which was circulated online and confirmed as authentic by a source in Allawi's office and Kurdish officials, that political infighting "will certainly abort the radical and comprehensive reform project", which Abadi has been advocating.

Allawi, a U.S.-educated former banker, has already served as finance minister once following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Parliament said on March 31 it would take 10 days to review Abadi's nominations, most of whom are not well known and were chosen without consulting the political parties. Lawmakers and analysts expect parliament to reject up to half the list.

(Reporting by Isabel Coles in Erbil and Stephen Kalin in Baghdad; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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 Reuters International