First Published: 2009-10-05

 
Iraq's top Shiite leader may urge vote boycott
 

Grand Ayatollah Sistani warns against MPs adopting closed voting system in coming election.

 

Middle East Online

Sistani 'supports the open list'

NAJAF, Iraq - Iraq's top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani has warned that he may call for a boycott of January's general election if MPs adopt a closed voting system, an aide said on Monday.

Iraqi MPs are working on a law that will govern the vote and on Sunday they moved to adopt a system that would list parties contesting the ballot without disclosing the names of individual candidates.

"Ayatollah Ali Husseini al-Sistani supports the open list, and we think the open list is one of the ways to push large numbers of Iraqis to vote in the elections," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity, from his office in the holy shrine city of Najaf.

The supreme leader's opinion is revered by his followers who account for a majority of Iraq's population and Shiites are unlikely to register their ballots if the elections, slated for January 16, do not have his support.

Sistani made his views known on Sunday during talks with Ad Melkert, the United Nations Secretary General's special representative to Iraq.

"Sistani expressed his point of view to the special representative, and if parliament were to continue on the closed list, he might have no big role in pushing Iraqi voters to participate in the elections," the official said.

A closed list was used in Iraq's national elections in 2005, which was boycotted by many due to the presence of US occupation, which was seen as delegitimising the whole election.

However, an open system listing the names of candidates and their parties was used in provincial polls held in January this year.

Those elections were won by candidates backed by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. Shiite parties who performed well in the 2005 parliamentary vote experienced big losses under the open list system adopted in the provincial vote.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 is viewed by critics as an 'act of aggression' that violated international law.

Subsequent US occupation policies caused the country to descend into almost total chaos, bordering on civil war.

An estimated 1.3 million Iraqis have been killed in Iraq as a direct result of the invasion, while millions more have fled the country.

Critics argue that the recent stability announced in the country should not excuse the 'crime' of invading Iraq, calling for the prosecution of the war's architects for 'crimes against humanity'

 

Iraq investigates Mosul civilian deaths

Iran to symbolically sanction 15 US companies

Syria fighting damages IS-held dam posing rising water risk

Yemeni rebel supporters flood streets on conflict’s anniversary

Cities, monuments dim lights for Earth Hour

In Algeria, everyone wants to be MP, few likely to vote

Iran to appeal seizure of 9/11 compensation money

Hamas shuts Gaza crossing after assassination of official

Deep concern as Israeli laws entrench the occupation

Turkey’s Kurds could sway tight referendum vote

Al-Qaeda, on the rise again, hits Assad where it hurts

US and allies talk of post-ISIS future, but have no plan

Israel’s air strike on Syria spooks Middle East

Gunmen kill Hamas official in Gaza

Separate Syria air strikes kill at least 32

UN says Israel has ignored resolution on illegal settlements

Veteran politician says Turkey referendum a 'test' for Kurds

More Algerian women in work, but husbands control wages

Beirut university settles US lawsuit over Hezbollah

1.1 million weekend travellers from Dubai hit by laptop ban

Shiite Lebanese women endure painful custody battles

Russia, China seek Iraq chemical weapons probe

Besieged Syrians struggle with dwindling dialysis supplies

Syria army retakes Damascus areas from rebels

Syria says peace talks must first focus on 'terrorism'

12 Syrian refugees dead after boat sinks off Turkey coast

Mosul displaced head into unknown

As war keeps them away, Yemen children dream of school

Ousted Egyptian president Mubarak freed from detention

Iraq's Sadr threatens boycott if election law unchanged

Israel, US fail to reach settlement agreement

Yemen rebel missile kills Saudi soldier

Turkish FM in Switzerland amid rising tensions with Europe

Two more 'significant arrests' over London attack

Britain arrests eight as IS claims Westminster attack

Man attempts to drive into crowd of shoppers in Belgium’s Antwerp

Palestinian FA chief says ball in Israel's court

Israel arrests Jewish teen over anti-Semitic terror threats

An Egypt court is to reopen a corruption probe into Mubarak

Bahrain frees award-winning AFP photographer

Erdogan slams 'pressure' on Turks in Bulgaria ahead of vote

Israel policeman suspended after caught on video beating Palestinian

Turkey summons Russia envoy over soldier death in Syria

Bahrain sentences three to death for police bombings

UN-backed Syria talks restart in Geneva