Maliki talks elections with cleric Sistani

Jan. 5, 2010 at 6:12 PM
| License Photo

NAJAF, Iraq, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to the Shiite holy city of Najaf on Tuesday to discuss election preparations with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Sistani holds considerable influence over Iraqi political developments, though he avoids direct involvement in formal affairs.

Maliki said in the wake of the visit that the cleric supported the March parliamentary elections and called on leaders to avoid exploiting public sentiment as the campaign season gets under way, Iraq's al-Sumaria news service reports.

Shiite lawmakers in Iraq followed the cleric's recommendation that parliamentary ballots feature the names of the candidates running for office rather than a closed system listing only political slates. That ballot amendment cleared the way for a law sanctioning the vote, though the date was pushed back three months from January to March because of political deliberations.

Sistani during meetings with U.N. officials in 2009 called on the Iraqi people to embrace the political process as the country emerged from years of violence.

Maliki during his meeting with Sistani said his State of Law coalition would join forces with the Shiite National Iraqi Alliance slate to compete in March elections.

Like Us on Facebook for more stories from UPI.com  
Latest Headlines
Top Stories
Greeks vote overwhelmingly to reject creditors' bailout
Maine man dead after shooting firework off head, police say
Russian resupply spacecraft docks onto ISS to deliver needed provisions
Third disturbance in four days erupts at Arizona prison
Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa targeted heavily in airstrikes