US government opposes delaying Iraqi elections — US Embassy in Baghdad

A bus displays a poster advising people to check about their voting information ahead of Iraq’s parliamentary elections in the capital Baghdad.(AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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US government opposes delaying Iraqi elections — US Embassy in Baghdad

BAGHDAD: The United States supports holding Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 as planned by Iraq’s government, the US Embassy in Baghdad said on Thursday, criticizing calls to postpone the vote.
“Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development,” the embassy said in a statement.
The statement was published as Iraqi lawmakers were debating whether to hold the vote as planned or postpone it in order to allow hundreds of thousands of displaced people to return home to cast their ballots.
The session will resume on Saturday, according to parliamentary Speaker Salim Al-Jabouri, when MPs may vote on the election date.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who is seeking re-election, is pushing for the vote to be held on May 12.
Abadi’s popularity among Iraq’s majority Shiite Arab community has risen after he successfully led a three-year fight against Daesh militants, supported by a US-led coalition.
Washington also showed understanding for Abadi’s move to dislodge Kurdish fighters from the oil rich northern region of Kirkuk in October, even though the Kurds are traditional allies of the United States.
“The United States is providing assistance that will help ensure that all Iraqi voices are heard and counted, including the approximately 2.6 million Iraqis who remain displaced from their homes in the liberated areas,” taken from Islamic State, the US embassy statement said.
The role of prime minister is reserved for the Shiite Arabs under a power-sharing system set up after the 2003 U.S-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Arab.
The largely ceremonial office of president is reserved for a Kurdish member of parliament, while the speaker of parliament is drawn from among Sunni Arab MPs.


Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots

Updated 24 min 5 sec ago
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Iraq plans manual election recount only for suspect ballots

  • The parliamentary election has been marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations

BAGHDAD: Iraq will conduct a manual recount of votes from a May election only for ballots mentioned in official reports on fraud or in formal complaints, a move likely to speed up the ratification of final results and the formation of a new government.
The parliamentary election has been marred by historically low turnout and fraud allegations.
The outgoing parliament this month passed a law mandating a nationwide manual recount of votes, but the panel of judges now in charge of the recount said it would only be conducted for problematic ballots.
Interpreting a ruling from the Supreme Federal Court, a panel of judges who are now in charge of the elections commission said on Sunday they would only manually recount problematic ballots “out of respect for the will of voters and their rights ... and to preserve their vote which came without any violation.”
The law passed by parliament had also suspended the Independent High Election Commission’s nine-member board of commissioners and replaced them with judges.
Ballot boxes from areas where there were fraud allegations will be moved to the capital Baghdad, where the recount will be held in the presence of United Nations representatives at a time and place to be determined later, the panel said in a statement.
The historically slow and complex process of forming an Iraqi government after an election has been further complicated this time round because of the fraud allegations and subsequent recount. Now that only specific ballots will be recounted, a new government could be formed faster.
The full recount was voted for by an outgoing parliament in which a majority of lawmakers, including the speaker, failed to retain their seats in the May poll. The vote came after a government report said there were serious electoral violations, but the report only recommended a partial recount.
Parliament met on Sunday to discuss another law that would allow it to remain in session until final results are ratified, even though its term constitutionally ends next week on June 30.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who’s electoral list came third in the poll, and the winner, cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, entered into a political alliance on Saturday night, less than two weeks after Sadr announced a similar alliance with second-placed Iran ally Hadi Al-Amiri’s bloc, thus bringing the top three blocs together.
Sadr’s bloc has been boycotting parliament’s sessions. He and Amiri were against a full recount. Both Sadr and Abadi oppose the idea of the current parliament extending its mandate.