Iraqi top Shia cleric calls on Iraqis to oppose return to power of ‘corrupt’ leaders

Rare intervention into politics

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SULAIMANI — Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said on Friday (May 4) Iraqis should oppose the return to power of “corrupt” leaders who had failed the country in the past.

Making a rare intervention into politics ahead of the parliamentary election on May 12, Sistani said in his weekly sermon that Iraqis “should avoid falling in the trap of those ... who are corrupt and those who failed, whether they have been already tried or not.”

His remarks were read by one of his representatives and broadcast on television.

Sistani called for necessary measures to be taken to prevent interference by other countries, without referring to a specific country.

Iraq's top Shia cleric said there is no option to replace elections, insisting on elections as the only legitmate means of making changes in power.

“People are free to vote,” Sistani added. “Boycotting elections would give further chances to others to win.”

“Past electoral experiments were marked by failures, many of those who were elected or appointed to high positions in the government who abused their power and took part in spreading corruption and squandering public money,” Sistani said, according to Reuters.