Iraq's Sistani says early election only way out of crisis

Iraq's top Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said on Friday that an early election was the only way out of the current unrest gripping the country and that a new government should be formed soon.

"The fastest and most peaceful way out of the current crisis, and avoiding the unknown or chaos or civil strife, is to go back to the people by holding an early election after legislating a fair electoral law," Sistani said.

"We hope that the formation of a new government is not delayed for long," he said in a speech read out by a representative at a Friday prayer sermon in the Shi'ite holy city of Kerbala.