Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, called on Friday for holding early parliamentary elections, after the enactment of a fair election law and formation of an independent electoral commission.
Al-Sistani’s representative in Karbala, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi Al-Karbalai, quoted the religious leader as stating: “We have indicated in a previous sermon that the people are the source of authorities and from whom they derive their legitimacy, as stipulated by the constitution. Therefore, the nearest and safest way to emerge from the current crisis and avoid the unknown, chaos or infighting, is to return to the people by holding early elections.”
Quoting Al-Sistani, Al-Karbalai explained that: “The early elections will be held after the enactment of a fair law regulating them, the formation of an independent electoral commission and the setting of an effective monitoring mechanism, at all stages of the commission’s work, that will restore trust in the electoral process.” While Al-Karbalai criticised the attempts hindering the enactment of the election law and the aggravation of disputes over some of its important articles.
He stressed on the necessity of expediting its approval, in line with the aspirations of the voters, taking into account the sanctity of the votes.
Al-Karbalai also asserted during the Friday prayer sermon that: “If the election law is passed in an acceptable manner, intellectual elites and national competencies desiring political action have to carry out their role in organising their ranks, preparing their programs for the advancement of the country and the resolution of its worsening problems within the framework of studied practical plans, in order to be ready to present it to the voters at the time of the elections.”
Al-Karbalai expressed his hope that: “There will be no more delay in the formation of the new government, which must be a non-controversial government that can respond to the requirements of the current stage, that will be able to restore the country’s status and appease the situation.” He also hoped for the upcoming elections to be: “Held in a tranquil atmosphere away from the disturbance of illegal money or weapons, and free from external interventions. ”
The Iraqi city of Najaf’s religious authority, Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, insisted that the country is facing: “Difficult and worrying conditions, amid the continuation of the participation of various groups of citizens in peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins demanding reform, while some of the activists are subjected to assassination, kidnapping and threat.”
Sistani’s call to expedite the formation of the interim government and enactment of the election law, comes as a prelude to the holding of early elections, coinciding with the efforts of the authorities and parties to gain more time to procrastinate the achievement of popular demands. President Barham Salih did not only extend the constitutional deadline for naming the new prime minister until next Sunday, but also sent an inquiry to the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq regarding the major parliamentary bloc that is entitled to nominate the new prime minister, in a move that activists considered “a new procrastination attempt.”
Iraqi political sources confirmed that Salih submitted a request to the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq to define the largest bloc in Parliament, after several political parties nominated candidates to the position of prime minister.