Iraq's al-Sistani calls on followers to vote

Iraq's top Shiite cleric has urged followers to participate in Thursday's elections, saying that they should give their votes to those who can safeguard their principles and interests. In a fatwa, or edict, made available Sunday to The Associated Press, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani also called on followers to avoid divisions. But he stopped short of an unequivocal endorsement of the Shiite coalition. Al-Sistani urged Shiites to vote for candidates "who can be trusted to protect their principles and safeguard their interests" in the next parliament.