Coronavirus Iraq’s top Shia cleric backs early parliamentary elections

Iraq’s top Shia cleric backs early parliamentary elections

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Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Ayatollah Ali Al-Sistani, yesterday said he supported early legislative elections slated for June 2021.

His remarks came following a meeting with the UN envoy to Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

“Parliamentary elections scheduled for next year are very important,” Al-Sistani said, adding that the vote must be held “under fair conditions that give them credibility so that the citizens would be encouraged to participate.”

He stressed that early elections are “the correct and peaceful path to getting out of the current political, economic, security and health problems Iraq faces,” warning that delays would lead to “deepening the country’s problems and reaching, God forbid, a point that would threaten its unity and the future of its people.”

READ: Iraq forms special delegation to negotiate with Turkey, Iran over water share

This was Al-Sistani’s first public face-to-face meeting with a foreign official since the spread of coronavirus in Iraq earlier this year.

Iraq is one of the hardest hit countries by the virus in the region, with nearly 300,000 confirmed cases and more than 7,900 deaths.

It is also the first such meeting since the 90-year-old underwent surgery for a fractured bone in January. 

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