Iraqi court rules elections must take place on May 12

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi attends an event in Baghdad. (File photo/Reuters)
Updated 21 January 2018
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Iraqi court rules elections must take place on May 12

BAGHDAD: Parliamentary and provincial elections in Iraq must take place on their scheduled date of May 12, the Federal Supreme Court ruled on Sunday.
The order ends a two-month debate on the issue after Sunni and Kurdish parliamentary blocs asked for voting to be postponed.
They argued that there was a lack of preparation because of the fight to drive Daesh out of towns and cities they had held for three years.
Gaining more time is crucial for Sunni politicians who lost their influence to political and tribal figures who fought Daesh alongside the government under the umbrella of Shiite-dominated paramilitary troops.
Kurds have also been looking to gain more time. Since October, they have lost their control over disputed areas after Baghdad launched a military campaign to drive the Kurdish forces back into their own region.
In their appeal for a postponement, the Sunni and Kurdish blocs relied on the previous electoral law, which said the date of the election should be approved by the parliament.
But the Supreme Court ruled that the constitution was “the supreme law in Iraq and is binding in all its regions, without any exceptions,” so the parliamentary and provincial elections should be held according to the constitutional dates.
“The Federal Court’s decision ended the debate over delaying the elections,” said Salim Al-Joubori, the parliamentary Speaker.
“The government must abide by its commitments to bring the displaced people back to their homes and provide them with the appropriate environment to ensure the participation of all in the upcoming election.”
Rebuilding infrastructure in cities and towns affected by the fighting, and bringing back more than three million displaced people to their homes, are the biggest challenges for the government before the elections.
Sunni politicians argue that the government cannot meet these commitments before the election date.
“This decision … is wrong and against the interest of Iraqis,” Hamid Al-Mutlaq, a senior Sunni politician, told Arab News. “The Supreme Electoral Commission is not ready to held the elections.” Hilding elections in May “does not give a fair or professional impression about the situation in Iraq,” he said.
“There will be a parliamentary session on Monday and we will see what to do.”


Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. (AFP)
Updated 19 December 2018
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Calm in Hodeidah as observers move in to monitor cease-fire

  • “Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said
  • The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday

JEDDAH: Truce monitoring observers will be deployed in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah on Wednesday as the first 24 hours of a UN-brokered cease-fire passed without incident.

The Redeployment Coordination Committee comprises members of the Yemeni government supported by the Saudi-led coalition, and Houthi militias backed by Iran, and is overseen by the UN. 

The head of the committee will report to the UN Security Council every week.

Deployment of the observers is the latest stage in a peace deal reached after talks last week in Sweden. Both sides in the conflict agreed to a cease-fire in Hodeidah and the withdrawal of their forces within 21 days.

“Both parties said publicly they are abiding by the cease-fire,” a UN official said on Tuesday.

Local authorities and police will run the city and its three port facilities under UN supervision, and the two sides are barred from bringing in reinforcements.

UN envoy Martin Griffith said the committee was expected to start its work swiftly “to translate the momentum built up in Sweden into achievements on the ground.”

The truce in Hodeidah officially began at midnight on Monday. Sporadic clashes continued until about 3 a.m. on Tuesday, but residents said there was calm after that. 

“We are hopeful that things will go back to the way they were and that there will be no aggression, no airstrikes and lasting security,” said one, Amani Mohammed.

Another resident, Mohammed Al-Saikel, said he was optimistic the cease-fire would pave the way for a broader truce. “We are hopeful about this cease-fire in Hodeidah and one for Yemen in general,” he said. “We will reach out in peace to whoever does the same.”

The UN Security Council is considering a draft resolution that asks Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to submit proposals by the end of the month on how to monitor the cease-fire.

The resolution, submitted by the UK, “calls on all parties to the conflict to take further steps to facilitate the unhindered flow of commercial and humanitarian supplies including food, fuel, medicine and other essential imports and humanitarian personnel into and across the country.”