Iraq’s top Shia cleric warns against outside influence

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

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.

READ: Fears of clashes as Iraq Shia militia supporters hold protests

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.