Sistani Elections Must Be Held Soon Az

Sistani: Elections must be Held soon

az-Zaman/Wire Services:

A spokesman for Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani says that elections must be held as soon as possible, and that anything done before the people have spoken is illegitimate. He is quoted as saying that “the principal political forces are not calling for an Islamic republic.” He said that Iraqis are well aware of the dangers of ethnic conflict and that they “do not call for the establishment of religious government. “

Sistani just wants a government that will respect the universally acknowledged Islamic principles. The state should respect the rights of minorities, he said.

Sistani is portrayed in some quarters as a Khomeini wannabe and as indistinguishable from Muqtada al-Sadr.

Going on what he says, though, he envisages a situation in Iraq analogous to that in Ireland for most of the 20th century. That is, the Catholic church did not rule; there was a secular parliament for that purpose. But the church effectively weighed in on legislation it thought affect it. Likewise, Sistani says he doesn’t want ayatollahs actually running the government. But they should intervene with fatwas or rulings when legislation arises that affects Islamic issues.