On the brink of capturing power for the first time, the country’s Shiite political leaders have decided that the nation’s leaders will not be clerics.

The senior leaders of the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of political parties that is poised to capture the most votes in the election next Sunday, have agreed that the Iraqi whom they nominate to be the country’s next prime minister will be a lay person and not an Islamic cleric. The Shiite leaders say there is a similar but less formal agreement that clerics will also be excluded from running the government ministries.

«There will be no turbans in the government,» said Adnan Ali, a senior leader of the Dawa Party, one of the largest Shiite parties. «Everyone agrees on that.»