Iraq

Grand Ayatollah Sistani warns Iraq leaders to expedite the formation of a new government

Aytullah_SistaniNAJAF, Iraq — Iraq’s revered Shiite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani threatened on Friday to intervene in protracted coalition talks if they do not produce a new government soon.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani warned that the  protracted deadlock between rival blocs since a March 7 general election might require “the intervention of the religious authority to solve it”.

Ayatollah Sistani’s spokesman Hamed al-Khaffaf stressed that the top cleric was not seeking to favour any one political party, but merely wanted to expedite the formation of a new government.

“The authority hopes an efficient government able to solve the country’s problems will be formed in the shortest time possible to avoid the sort of large political problem that requires the intervention of the religious authority to solve it,” Khaffaf told reporters in the central shrine city of Najaf.

“The authority will not support any of the candidates for the premiership nor will it reject any of them,” Grand Ayatollah Sistani said.

The spokesman rejected reports that Sistani had had a hand in the formation of an alliance between Maliki’s Shiite-led State of Law list and the main Shiite religious bloc that now has more seats in parliament than does Allawi, a secular Shiite with extensive Sunni support.

“The religious authority did not have any role in this alliance, and never spoke about this issue,” he said.

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