Iraq PM seeks allies online to join election list

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2018
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Iraq PM seeks allies online to join election list

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi has launched an online appeal for allies to join his list of candidates for elections scheduled for May 12.
The initiative is a first for Iraq, ahead of its fourth parliamentary and provincial assembly elections since the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein in a US-led 2003 invasion.
The direct appeal, which requires any prospective candidate to collect 500 signatures of support, bypasses Iraq’s traditional route of selection by political parties, clans or tribes.
In public shows of disaffection with the political system, protests are staged weekly across Iraq against corruption, cronyism and the failure of authorities to provide basic services.
Abadi vows in his election manifesto to lead a list of candidates that rises above the country’s sectarian divisions and is not standing under the banner of his Dawa party.
He says his online appeal was in response to “the popular demand for the selection of the most effective and best candidates,” and that it would “enlarge public participation.”
Successful candidates would need to be aged at least 30, clear of any criminal record and have completed secondary or higher education.
On Sunday, Abadi announced plans to stand for re-election at the head of a new list separate from key rival and Dawa party fellow member Nuri Al-Maliki.
His “Victory Alliance” would be a “cross-sectarian” list aimed at overcoming divisions and battling inequalities in the country, the 65-year-old prime minister said.
Abadi declared victory in December in the more than three-year war to expel Daesh from the vast areas of Iraq it seized in 2014.
Arab candidates, many of whose constituents were displaced by the battles, have appealed for the election date to be pushed back to December.


UN's Middle East envoy urges Israeli ‘restraint’ as Netanyahu warns of further action in Gaza

Updated 16 min 26 sec ago
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UN's Middle East envoy urges Israeli ‘restraint’ as Netanyahu warns of further action in Gaza

NEW YORK: The United Nations' Middle East envoy urged the Security Council to condemn the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Gaza's Hamas toward Israel, saying that it dramatically increased the risk of escalation and a new conflict.

Nikolay Mladenov told the council on Tuesday that "a fragile calm seems to have taken hold." He urged Israel "to exercise maximum restraint as the situation remains very tense," and not use force "without the need for it."

During the latest bout of violence, Mladenov said that at least 103 rockets and mortars had been fired from Gaza toward Israel, while Israeli forces had conducted 42 airstrikes on various locations in Gaza and fired 16 shells toward Gaza, wounding seven Palestinians and destroying several buildings including Hamas offices and security buildings.

His comments came after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that he was ready to order further action in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip after airstrikes in response to the rocket fire.

“I can tell you we are prepared to do a lot more. We will do what is necessary to defend our people and to defend our state,” Netanyahu told the US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC by video link after cutting short a trip to Washington to handle the crisis.

More to follow...