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Iraq’s top Shi’ite cleric hints at renewed opposition to Maliki return

Maher Chmaytelli writes for Reuters:

Iraq’s powerful top Shi’ite cleric suggested on Friday that he had not abandoned his opposition to ex-prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is bidding to return to power in elections on May 12.

Making a rare intervention in politics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani used his weekly sermon to tell Iraqis they should “avoid falling into the trap of those ... who are corrupt and those who have failed, whether they have been tried or not”.

Sistani, whose opinion is sacrosanct for millions in Iraq’s Shi’ite Muslim majority and beyond, said he was keeping an “equal distance” from all candidates and did not identify any of them by name in his sermon, read by one of his envoys, Sheikh Abdulmehdi al-Karbalai, and broadcast on television.

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