BAGHDAD, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's top Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on Friday called for early elections to ease the tensions of anti-government demonstrations.
Al-Sistani also called for "forming an independent electoral commission, and putting in place an effective monitoring mechanism."
"We have noticed that the approval of the election law has been hindered, and the dispute over some of its main articles has been aggravated, and here we stress once again the need to expedite its approval," al-Sistani said.
On Wednesday, the Iraqi parliament passed 14 articles out of 50 of the draft electoral law but failed to pass the others after a dispute, which forced Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi to adjourn the parliament session.
Al-Sistani's remarks also came amid a political row over who will be chosen as the new prime minister-designate to form an interim government ahead of early parliament elections.
Mass demonstrations had continued in parts of Iraq since early October, demanding comprehensive reform, fight against corruption, better public services and more jobs.