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Iraq's top Shia cleric warns against outside influence

Sistani in Friday sermon calls on citizens to maintain peace amid protests

Mohamed Waleed   | 06.12.2019
Iraq's top Shia cleric warns against outside influence Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani

BAGHDAD 

Prominent Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani on Friday urged the formation of a new government away from outside interventions. 

In a statement read by his representative Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai during Friday sermon in Karbala province, the cleric said: "We hope that the selection of the new prime minister and his members come within the constitutional period and according to the aspirations of the Iraqi citizens away from any external interference -- noting that -- the religious reference is not a part in any discussion in this regard."

According to Iraqi local media, Qasem Suleimani, the chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps arrived in Iraq to discuss the formation of the new government. 

Last Sunday, the Iraqi parliament accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Adel Abdel-Mahdi amid protests against corruption and poor living conditions.

"If the [Iraqi] popular movement expanded, it will be an effective tool to put pressure on those who have power but the prerequisite for this is not to be dragged into acts of violence, chaos nor sabotage," Karbalai said.

He urged everyone to support and respect the security forces and avoid chaos.

Iraq has been rocked by mass protests since early October in which 460 Iraqis were killed and 17,000 injured, Iraq's High Commission for Human Rights said.

* Bassel Barakat contributed to this report from Ankara

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