ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s influential Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said on Thursday that there had been little improvement in Iraq since Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s appointment, pointing to the new parliament’s unfinished cabinet as an example.
The top Shia cleric, who is known to distance himself from politics, is revered by the Iraqi public and is an important symbol for public opinion.
Sistani called on lawmakers and Abdul-Mahdi’s new government to cooperate and “improve the situation” in Iraq, urging Baghdad to overcome its challenges and provide services to the people, a statement on his website said.
His comments came in a meeting at his headquarters in Najaf, south of Baghdad, with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), Ján Kubiš.
Iraq’s new government has yet to complete its cabinet six months after a controversial election marred with claims of corruption and vote tampering as political parties wrestle for representation in the parliament.
In late October, the Iraqi Parliament gave its vote of confidence to 14 ministers, but candidates to lead eight other ministries, including the coveted posts of Interior and Defense, were not included in the ballot. MPs were due to elect the remainder, but this has so far been delayed.
In a recent interview with Kurdistan 24, Kubiš called on all political forces and members of parliament in Baghdad to complete the process promptly.
“People of the country are eagerly waiting and are in need of a government that will work, that will deliver.”