Top Iraq cleric says lack of new government 'regrettable failure'

BAGHDAD Fri Jul 4, 2014 6:14am EDT

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BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The inability of Iraq's parliament to agree on a new government in its first session was a "regrettable failure", Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, said in a Friday sermon delivered by his aide.

"Last Tuesday the first session of parliament convened. People were optimistic that this would be a good start for this council in its commitment to the constitutional and legal texts," his aide, Ahmed al-Safi, said in the sermon.

"But what happened afterwards, in that the speaker and his deputies were not elected before the session finished, was a regrettable failure."

Sistani also reiterated his call that the new government should have "broad national acceptance".

(Reporting by Isra al-Rubei'i and Raheem Salman; Writing by Alexander Dziadosz; Editing by Alison Williams)

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