Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged the formation of a new government as soon as possible in the wake of protests against alleged government corruption and poor public services in southern cities.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): Iraq’s senior Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has urged the formation of a new government as soon as possible in the wake of protests against alleged government corruption and poor public services in southern cities.
In a message delivered at the Friday sermon in the holy city of Kerbala through one of his representatives, Ayatollah Sistani called on the administration of incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to urgently meet the demands of people for improved basic services and employment.
"The current government must work hard urgently to implement citizens' demands to reduce their suffering and misery," Ayatollah Sistani's representative said.
The demonstrations in southern Iraq first erupted on July 8 in the city of Basra, an important hub for oil exports which account for over 95 percent of Iraq's government revenue.
Long neglected, Basra is one of the few cities in the Middle East without an effective water treatment system. Many of its waterways are stagnant cesspools, with state officials blaming it on a public funding crisis caused by years of low oil prices.
The timing of the demonstrations is critical due to the fact that political factions are trying to form a coalition government following the May 12 parliamentary elections.
Ayatollah Sistani said the next prime minister should work to fight governmental corruption.
"He (the new prime minister) must launch a relentless war against the corrupted and those who protect them," Ayatollah Sistani’s representative said.