Iraq PM Abadi political reforms
People shout slogans during a demonstration against corruption and poor services in regard to power cuts and water shortages, in Kerbala, southwest of BaghdadMushtaq Muhammad/Reuters

Embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced sweeping political reforms eliminating several high-ranking posts including vice-president and deputy prime minister.

The move will force Nouri al-Maliki to step down from his position as vice-president which he took over after he was expelled as prime minister. There are three vice-presidents and three deputy prime ministers in Iraq.

"The posts of vice-president and deputy prime minister would be eliminated immediately," an online statement from the prime minister's office read.

It is still unclear whether the decisions need to be ratified by the Iraqi cabinet and the parliament, but the official statement says the measures come into force with immediate effect.

As part of the reforms, Abadi has announced the security of high-ranking politicians would be reduced. According to the statement, the bodyguards "would be moved to the defence or interior ministry based on their training where they will defend the country and its people".

The moves have come after days of intense protests by Iraqis demanding stricter punishment for corruption and better handling of government services.

The prime minister's office insisted that "all special payment to government committees and retired officials would be revoked".

The increasing sectarian violence has forced the government to share power along factional lines which has drastically affected the effectiveness of the administration.

The rising tide of public anger against the Baghdad administration is also likely to influence Iraq's ongoing fight against Islamic State militants (Isis). The latest move is not entirely a surprise given the mounting pressure on Abadi to provide good governance.