On July 25, the official website of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani posted an article reporting that Sistani has called on Iraqi officials not to cling to their positions, alluding to the insistence of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki on seeking a third term. Official spokespeople for Sistani have previously criticized the performance of the Iraqi government, as well as the stances of Maliki himself; this, however, is the first time that Sistani has directly demanded Maliki withdraw his candidacy.
The article came in response to the stance of Sayyid Mahmoud Shahroudi — a prominent religious figure known for his close ties with Iran’s leadership and the Maliki-led Dawa Party — in support of Maliki. The website also noted the support of other Shiite religious authorities in Qom and Najaf for Sistani’s position.
In another development, Sayyid Jafaar al-Sadr, the son of the the Dawa Party founder, called on all of Dawa’s leading members to end their support for Maliki, since the latter is the main obstacle to settling disputes and forming a new government.
In the same context, the Badr and independent blocs belonging to Maliki’s State of Law Coalition announced they would split from the coalition if Maliki insisted on a third term. This means the coalition would lose the majority of votes within the National Iraqi Alliance, from which the prime minister should be chosen.