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  • Al-Sistani said he hopes the formation of a new Iraqi government is not delayed for long amid continuing crisis.

    Al-Sistani said he hopes the formation of a new Iraqi government is not delayed for long amid continuing crisis. | Photo: AP

Published 20 December 2019
Opinion

Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani proclaimed early elections to ease the tensions of mass demonstrations that had persisted in parts of the country since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more jobs.

Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for early elections to ease the tensions of anti-government demonstrations, according to News Agency Xinhua.

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"We have noticed that the approval of the election law has been hindered, and the dispute over some of its main articles has been aggravated, and here we stress once again the need to expedite its approval," al-Sistani said.

Furthermore, he called for "forming an independent electoral commission, and putting in place an effective monitoring mechanism."

On Wednesday, the Iraqi parliament passed 14 articles out of 50 of the draft electoral law but failed to pass the others after a dispute, which forced Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi to adjourn the parliament session.

Al-Sistani's remarks also came amid a political row over who will be chosen as the new prime minister-designate to form an interim government ahead of early parliament elections.

Mass demonstrations had continued in parts of Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more jobs. Protesters have complained of being monitored, threatened and harassed in an intimidation campaign they say is aimed at blunting their movement.

They also want a complete overhaul of the political system installed after the 2003 US invasion of the country, where power is apportioned among religious and ethnic groups.

More than 450 people, mostly unarmed demonstrators but also some members of the security forces, have been killed since a wave of popular anti-government unrest began.

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