Iraq

Grand Ayatollah Sistani Calls for National Unity in Iraq

ayatullah_sistaniGrand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has called on all concerned political factions to pool their resources to help form Iraq’s next government.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani “has stressed the principle of national partnership,” Iraqi Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi said following a meeting with the respected clergyman in Najaf, UPI reported on Monday.

Grand Ayatollah Sistani underlined “the need that all political blocs participate in the decision-making process and pay utmost attention to security and services,” al-Nujaifi added.

The country held general elections on March 7.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition and archrival Iyad Allawi’s al-Iraqiya secured 89 and 91 seats respectively in the 325-member parliament, both falling shy of the 163 seats required for a majority.

The factions failed to agree on the principles of the future ruling structure until last month, when they clinched a deal, reinstating Maliki and President Jalal Talabani. Maliki has said he would appoint the future government by mid-December.

The next government is expected to defuse the countrywide tension, which is a result of the United States-led invasion of 2003 and the subsequent war and occupation.

Over one million Iraqis have been killed during the war and occupation, according to the California-based Project Censored.

Maliki has warned against any extension of the foreign military presence on the country’s soil beyond a 2011 deadline, which Washington is obligated to respect.

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