Sistani Signals Opposition to Renewing Maliki’s Term

By Ali Mamouri for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Since the start of the political process in Iraq, Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani has adopted the approach of providing overall direction without interfering in the political decision-making of the Iraqi government.

This behavior is due to his religious and political views, which prevent him from political work because he is a cleric and an important religious reference for the Shiite community.

Since the political deterioration in Iraq two years ago, Sistani has made every effort to keep Iraq from sliding into the abyss. But the faulty policies of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his determination to press forward despite warnings from Sistani have put the country in major crisis from which it cannot get out soon.

On June 20, Sistani demanded that Iraqi politicians, in the words of his designated representative Sayyed Ahmed al-Safi, convene the first session of the new Iraqi parliament according to constitutional timelines, select the three top leaders (president of the republic, parliament speaker and prime minister) and form a new government, adding that “it is very important to adhere to these timelines and not to exceed them. It is important that all blocs talk to each other and that it result in the formation of a functioning government that would rectify past mistakes, open up new horizons and (work for) a better future.”

The first parliamentary session was held on July 1, but there were no agreements to form a new government. A second session was scheduled for July 8, but on July 7 Iraqi state television announced that the second session has been postponed until Aug. 12.

The main reason for the lack of agreement is Maliki’s insistence on retaining his post for a third term. On July 3, the former parliament speaker and the former president of the United for Reform coalition Osama al-Nujaifi announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy for parliament speaker to facilitate the task of forming the government.

Maliki had conditioned waiving his candidacy for the premiership on Nujaifi waiving his candidacy for parliament speaker. But after Nujaifi agreed to the condition, Maliki reneged, and that blocked a solution to the crisis.

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