Published On: Sat, Jun 28th, 2014

Iraq’s Shi’ite cleric wants a prime minister chosen in four days

Iraq's Shi'ite cleric wants a prime minister chosen in four daysIraq’s leaders were called on by the most influential Shi’ite cleric to choose a prime minster within the next four days. This is a very dramatic political intervention that is being taken on which could mean the end of Nuri al-Maliki’s eight year rul. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who commands unswerving loyalty from many of the Shi’ites in Iraq and many other places, stated that the political blocs should agree on the next premier, parliament speaker and president before a newly elected legislature’s meeting on Tuesday.

The intervention by Sistani makes it difficult for Maliki to stay on as caretaker leader as he has since a parliamentary election in April. This is to mean that he must either build a coalition to confirm himself in power for a third term or step aside. Sistani’s message was delivered after a meeting of Shi’ite factions including Maliki’s State of Law coalition failed to agree on a consensus candidate for prime minister.

The United States and other countries are pushing for a new, inclusive government to be formed as quickly as possible to counter the insurgency led by an offshoot of al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The embattled Maliki accused his political foes of trying to prevent parliament from meeting on time and stirring up violence to interfere with the political process.”They worked to postpone the elections… and now they are working to postpone the first session of the council of representatives… but if they are not able to pressure us to postpone, they will go for inciting security incidents in Baghdad,” he said during a televised meeting with commanders.

Allies of Maliki said Sistani’s call for a quick decision was not aimed at sidelining the premier but at putting pressure on all political parties not to draw out the process with infighting as the country risks disintegration. The Kurds have yet to agree on a candidate for president and the Sunnis are divided among themselves over the speaker’s post.

Denisha Sahadevan

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Iraq’s Shi’ite cleric wants a prime minister chosen in four days