In Najaf, Iraq's high clergy are pushing for direct elections and direct representation rather than pre-approved party tickets which they see as easily manipulated.
Muhamad Naeem al Kinani, the director of Iraqiein, a Baghdad-based nongovernmental group that monitors the integrity of elections, noted that Iran opposed direct votes and preferred closed lists. "It is looking to serve its interests by having loyal legislators," he said.
reason is grounded in theology, he said: Shiite Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, thinks that the clergy should be directly responsible for affairs of state, and his followers believe that his authority transcends borders.
"Sistani is the complete opposite," Kinani said. "He believes that the people themselves should be free to choose who represents them. ... He doesn't impose orders or decisions upon the government. He intervenes only when there is an issue that
touches on the interests of society itself."
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