ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali al-Sistani on Friday rejected purported efforts by regional or international entities to counter the will and goals of demonstrations that have swept the country.
The statement comes a day after informed political sources told Reuters that notorious Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani had been in Baghdad to prevent the removal of Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi from power amid protests marred by violence.
October's deadly and Iraqi-wide demonstrations—which saw two weeks of pause midway through the month—called for an end to the economic woes of the public and a complete governmental overhaul amid shortages of public services, high rates of unemployment, and chronic institutional corruption.
Sistani said in a sermon read by an aide in Karbala that "respect for the will of Iraqis in determining the political and administrative system of their country through a referendum on the constitution and periodic elections to the House of Representatives is the principle adhered to by the religious authority and stressed since the former regime was changed."
The cleric's aide relayed that "necessary reform must be carried out," stating further that "it is not for any person, group, party or any regional or international party to seize the will of Iraqis in this and impose their opinion on them."
The religious authority, also known as the Marjaa, called on "all parties to reflect on the present and future of Iraq" and prevent "special interests" from affecting decision-making.
On Thursday, Iraqi President Barham Salih announced on Thursday that Abdul-Mahdi had agreed to resign if political parties agreed on a replacement ‘within constitutional measures.’
Editing by Nadia Riva