Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Baghdad announces early legislative elections for June 2021

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Iraq

In the wake of an unprecedented protest movement that has shaken the country, the Iraqi Prime Minister has set the date for an election much awaited by the population.

In early May, barely appointed, Kazimi pledged to lead Iraq to early elections after the revolt launched in October

KEYSTONE

Iraqi Prime Minister Moustafa al-Kazimi announced early legislative elections in June 2021 on Friday, a first in a country recently witnessed by an unprecedented popular revolt and where confidence has long been broken between politicians and voters.

Unprecedented revolt

In early May, barely appointed, Kazimi, pledged to lead Iraq to early elections after the revolt launched in October which led to the resignation of his predecessor Adel Abdel Mahdi.

“The date of June 6, 2021 has been set for the holding of legislative elections,” he said Friday evening during a televised address.

The man, also head of intelligence, added that the authorities would “do everything possible to succeed in this ballot and protect it”, in a country where the elections were sometimes marred by violence and often by fraud.

The last legislative elections in Iraq were held in May 2018 and the next election should have taken place in May 2022.

But from October until the beginning of the year, hundreds of thousands of people occupied places in Baghdad and all the cities of the South to call for the overthrow of the political system and all its men.

They denounced haphazardly endemic corruption and the distribution of posts according to ethnic or confessional affiliations, which served the interests of parties that had become irremovable.

The government of the day proposed a new electoral law to Parliament in an attempt to pledge the streets. This law was passed but, explain experts and diplomats, the section which details the methods of voting and the constituencies has not yet been finalized.

In addition, the High Electoral Commission, which oversees the polls in Iraq, is infiltrated by the major political parties and regularly accused of bias. Its role in organizing the next elections is not yet clear.

As for the demonstrators in October, they have so far not attempted to organize into a political force to bring their demands to the elections.

Mr. Kazimi has also once again promised to shed light on the violence that has punctuated the movement (560 dead, 30,000 wounded), repressed in blood, and marked by kidnappings and assassinations attributed by the UN to “Militias”.

Crisis and stagnation

The UN mission in Iraq welcomed Kazimi’s announcement, saying that an early poll met a “key demand” from the people.

She said she was ready to “provide support and technical advice” for “free, fair and credible elections”. Mr. Kazimi mentioned the presence of “international observers” for this election.

The legislative elections of 2018 were marked by a record abstention: participation had reached 44.52%, according to official figures that many voices considered inflated.

Voters then shunned the major historical parties, voting overwhelmingly for the Shiite leader Moqtada Sadr, ex-militia leader, allied with the Communists on an anti-corruption program, as well as for the former pro-Iran paramilitaries of Hachd al-Chaabi, now integrated into the State.

The Kazimi government inherited a country on its knees. Two years after the end of the war against the jihadists – arrived after an almost uninterrupted succession of conflicts and violence for 40 years – Iraq is now stuck in political and economic slump and torn between its major allies. – same enemies, the United States and Iran.

In the midst of the global Covid-19 pandemic, OPEC’s second-largest producer has to face head-on health crises – with nearly 125,000 contaminations – and economic crises – driven by the fall in oil prices. Not to mention a social discontent that threatens to resurface in one of the hottest countries in the world where electricity only works a few hours a day.

Opposite, the Iraqis say they refuse an austerity that they denounce as unfair while corruption, fictitious jobs and other contracts for projects that only existed on paper have already cost 410 billion euros, or twice the GDP of the country.

(AFPE/NXP)

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