Four Members of Karbala’s Provincial Assembly Resign under Pressure from Sistani
al-Hayat: Four members of Karbala’s American-appointed provincial council yielded to the demands that they resign issued by the representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. All four, including one woman, said they are “suspending” their membership in the body. Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala’i had warned them of dire consequences if they continued to serve. Al-Karbala’i maintains that members appointed by fiat by the American provincial administrator last summer have no legitimacy, and that local notables and Sistani himself should have been consulted about the appointments. The members who resigned asked for a freely elected provincial council. A remaining member of the appointed council said he expected further resignations.
Demands for resignations of undemocratically appointed provincial councils have roiled the southern cities of Kut, Amara and Nasiriyah in recent weeks.
Paul Bremer gave an interview at al-Arabiya satellite t.v. on Saturday, in which, at least as he was translated, he seemed to say that technical considerations would make holding direct elections in Iraq impossible for at least a year to 15 months. Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani seems to want them by October. So far if you had to bet on who would get his way, Bremer or Sistani, you’d have to put your money on Sistani. Bremer will be back in Washington, DC on July 2, and Sistani will still be there. If the Americans cannot even keep their provincial council for Karbala in place under the pressure of a few sermons from Sistani supporters, they can’t easily overrule Sistani on elections.