Iraq's top Shiite cleric calls for forming new gov't amid protests over lack of jobs, basic service

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The measures included allocating 3.5 trillion Iraqi dinars (about 2.9 billion U.S. dollars) to carry out several major projects for public services, such as electricity and water facilities, in addition to providing thousands of jobs in government institutions.

Meanwhile, Abadi, as the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, issued an order of high alert for the security forces in the central and southern provinces in response to the protests.

BAGHDAD, July 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called Friday for forming a new government and meeting the recent protesters' demands about anti-corruption reforms, jobs and better basic service.

The comments of Sistani came after about two weeks of demonstrations in Iraq's oil-hub province of Basra in southern Iraq, as well as several Iraqi cities despite a series of measures taken by Abadi aimed at quelling the street anger.

Meanwhile, Sistani called on to form a new government as soon as possible, and to be strong and courageous enough in the fight against financial and administrative corruption, Karbalai said during the weekly Friday prayer in the holy Shiite city of Karbala, some 110 km south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

The new prime minister must consider his main duty is "to wage a relentless war against the corrupted and those who protect them," Karbalai added.

The demonstrators accused the influential political parties of being behind the wide-spread corruption that led to high rates of unemployment and failure in rehabilitation of the country's electricity, water and other basic services.

Sistani called for the next government to work in effective ways, including amending the laws that are currently in force, fighting against corruption, and carefully selecting and appointing senior officials.

Sistani warned that the Iraqi people would develop means of peaceful protests to impose their will on the officials, if the new authorities refrained from meeting the demands of the protesters.

Sistani's representative Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai urged the current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to respond urgently to the protesters' demands for jobs and better basic services to reduce peoples' suffering.