Sistani Urges Iraq Gov't to End Corruption

Sistani Urges Iraq Gov't to End CorruptionSistani Urges Iraq Gov't to End Corruption

Iraq's top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, directed Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take tougher measures against corruption and name politicians standing in the way of reform.

"He must be more daring and courageous in his reforms," Ahmed al-Safi, a representative of Sistani, said in a sermon delivered in the holy city of Karbala, Middle East Online reported. Baghdad and several cities in southern Iraq have been swept by a string of protests against the poor quality of services, including worsening power outages that have coincided with searing summer temperatures.

The demonstrators have blamed the services crisis on corruption and incompetence across the political class. Abadi took office nearly a year ago, announcing tough action against pervasive corrupt practices that had come to symbolize the tenure of his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki.

Observers argue that while graft may be less open than it once was, the mechanisms of corruption remain in place.

In an attempt to assuage protesters, Abadi has imposed programmed electricity cuts on state institutions and top officials but Sistani said more was needed.

"He should not be satisfied with some minor steps he recently announced … the government should make important decisions and take drastic measures to fight corruption and achieve social justice.

"He should make the political parties accountable and identify who is hampering the march of reform, whoever they are."