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Sistani Rejects Any Foreign Actor to Impose its View on Iraq’s People

Sistani Rejects Any Foreign Actor to Impose its View on Iraq’s People

Friday, 1 November, 2019 - 13:00
Iraqi demonstrators attend an anti-government protest in Baghdad, Iraq October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ali al-Sistani warned foreign actors on Friday against interfering in the country's anti-government protests as they entered their second month.

The demonstrations have evolved since October 1 from rage over corruption and unemployment to demands for a total government overhaul.

In his weekly sermon, Sistani said Iraq must not be dragged into the "abyss of infighting".

"No person or group, no side with a particular view, no regional or international actor may seize the will of the Iraqi people and impose its will on them," said Sistani's sermon, read by a representative.

Sistani's comments seemed to be directed at Iran's supreme leader Ali Khamenei.

"I seize this opportunity to tell those who care about Iraq and Lebanon to remedy insecurity as their priority," Khamenei said Thursday.

Ahmed al-Safi, delivering Sistani’s sermon Friday, said that Iraq’s Shiite religious establishment condemns "attacks on peaceful protesters and all forms of unjustified violence," and that those responsible should be held accountable.

More than 250 people have died and 10,000 have been wounded in the past month as protests evolved into calls for the "downfall of the regime".

On Thursday night, President Barham Saleh vowed to hold early elections once a new voting law and electoral commission has been agreed.

He also said Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi was ready to step down once political leaders agree on a replacement.

Abdel Mahdi came to power a year ago .

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