Sistani Discourages Shiite MPs from joining Cabinet
Al-Zaman/ AFP: An aide close to Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said Friday that Sistani prefers it if the members of parliament from the United Iraqi Alliance decline posts as cabinet ministers. He says that they should instead concentrate on drafting the permanent constitution. The aide gave the interview to al-Zaman but declined to be identified.
Cabinet ministers do not have to be drawn from elected members of parliament. Sistani is probably worried that if 17 UIA MPs step down in order to serve in the executive, the religious Shiites will lose their majority and will then be unable to shape the constitution in the direction of Shiite religious law. Also, there is the problem that competition for cabinet posts among the coalition partners in the UIA is causing friction among them. The aide says that Sistani was only expressing a preference, rather than laying an absolute duty on the members of parliament.
Al-Hayat says that Abdul Karim al-Anizi, leader of a branch of the Dawa Party (The Organization of Dawa in Iraq), is competing for the interieor ministry against Bayan Jabir of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq.
Meanwhile, hard line Sunni cleric Abdul Ghafur al-Samarra’i, of the Association of Muslim Scholars, called for President Jalal Talabani to follow through on his pledge of offering amnesty to Sunni Arabs in prison, and to disregard the cautions of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.