IRAQ'S top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani wants general elections in the country to take place on time and under UN supervision to make them "credible and transparent," one of his top aides said yesterday.
Hamed al-Khafaf said that the poor security situation should not be taken as a pretext to postpone the general elections scheduled to take place before the end of January.
"His eminence Sayyed al-Sistani stresses the necessity of holding elections on time and the necessity of preparing the atmosphere under international supervision to be credible and transparent," Mr Khafaf said.
Car bombs, shootings and kidnappings around the county have given rise to fears that Iraq will not be ready for elections by the deadline.
Some areas west of Baghdad are out of government control.
Last week, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan warned that there could not be "credible elections if the security conditions continue as they are now."
But top Iraqi officials have insisted that they will take place as scheduled.
"Elections will occur in Iraq on time in January because Iraqis want elections on time," interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi told a joint meeting of the US Congress yesterday.
Mr Khafaf stressed that the security should not be taken as an excuse for any delay.
"What if the security situation went on for 10 years?"
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond believes himself vindicated by the High Court ruling that his Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) is independent.
A look at the causes and possible outcomes of Silvio Berlusconi and his right-wing coalition's lead in the polls.
Attacks such as yesterday's horrific murder in Woolwich didn't happen before the 'war on terror.' It's time we recognised the consequences of the conflicts we've unleashed