The elections battle on the presidency of the Iraqi ministerial council has become fierce as politicians and religious figures call for political change and reform, as well as urging voters not cast votes for previous figures who failed to achieve safety and security.
The Sadrist Movement revealed the cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr refused to renew the mandate of Al-Maliki due to his government's failure in meeting the needs of the public in the security, stability and services. The Sadrist Movement announced its own candidate for the position.
Al-Ahrar Movement is hopeful that its candidate will win the position because he enjoys considerable popularity amongst the people of Maysan. Factions always avoid announcing the names of their nominees before the end of elections.
In an unprecedented move, Al-Maliki threatened to expel the Supreme Shia Cleric in Najaf Ali Sistani if he does not remain silent on the eve of the elections.
A Shia source close to Al-Sistani said that Al-Maliki sent a letter to Al-Sistani asking him to stay away from the candidates. The same source also said that Al-Sistani's oldest son reported threats against his father by Al-Maliki.
Al-Sistani's son said that Al-Maliki asked his father to be moderate in his statements which call for changing faces that failed to improve the disastrous economic situation.
Al-Sistani has called for a wide participation in the elections for the sake of change and reform. In his Friday speech he considered the elections a chance to change the situation in the country.
One of the four Shia clerics in Najaf Bashir Al-Najafi called for voters not to vote for Al-Maliki. Al-Najafi blamed Al-Maliki's government for the disastrous situation in Iraq. He called for choosing new not "dirty" faces.
Most of the Shia politicians tend to get closer to the Shia clerics in order to invest their popularity amongst voters. Al-Sistani and other religious clerics did not support any political party.
Analysts expect that the clerics' calls to choose new faces and not corrupt officials worry Al-Maliki and embarrass him in front of the Shia population.
The entrances to the city of Baghdad will be closed this evening as part of preparations for the parliamentarian elections. Security spokesmen said the closures are part of a security plan to protect voters and voting centres.