UPDATE 1-Iraq Ayatollah calls for new parliament to start work without delay

BAGHDAD, June 20 Fri Jun 20, 2014 6:53am EDT

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BAGHDAD, June 20 (Reuters) - Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani called on Friday for the newly elected parliament to begin work and start the process of forming the next government without delay.

A sermon by Sistani, highest religious authority for the country's Shi'ite Muslims, was read out by his representative Sayed Ahmed al-Saafi at the Imam Hussein shrine in Kerbala. It called for parliament to convene after Iraq's federal court ratified election results this week.

"The federal court ratified the results of the elections and there are timings according to the constitution to hold the session for the new parliament to choose its speaker, president and the prime minister and also to form the new government," it said.

"It is very important to be committed to these timings and not to violate them."

According to the constitution, the parliament's first session should be held within 15 days of the ratification of results. But Iraqi political blocs are divided over whether to hold the meeting, faced with a war against Sunni militants, who seized Mosul and other northern cities last week. (Reporting by Raheem Salman; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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