Nouri Maliki told CNN that the cleric's movement would not be allowed to take part in elections unless it disbanded its militia, the Mehdi Army" . Muqtada for his part turned to Sistani (Najaf) and Kazem Ha'iri (Qomm) for their opinions (BBC). In view of his and his late father's bitter rivalry with Sistani, this is a revolutionary move.
Maliki: yesterday the Iraqi TV reported of his speech at the funeral of his security aid Salim (Abu Layth) al-Ta'iyy who was killed in a battle in Basra. Maliki presented the government troops' attack on the Mahdi Army in Basra as part of the legacy of Muqtada's father, "Al-Shahid al-Sadr". By this he attempted to present Muqtada as someone who betrayed his father's legacy. Maliki presented himself for the first time as the "Commander in Chief (al-Qa'id al-'Amm) of the Iraqi Armed Forces". This is based on the Iraqi Constitution according to which: "The Prim Minister is ... the Commander in Chief of the armed forces" (Article 77). It also seems to be following in the footsteps of the American Constitution, but under Saddam, too, the president was the Commander in Chief. Maliki however has not until yesterday used this title. It seems that using it is part of his confrontational and uncompromising (so far) position vis-a-vis the Mahdi Army but also a part of an attempt to impose his will on his ministers of defense and the interior, two independent and strong personalities at the helm of the two most important security apparatuses.