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.”


Israel clears Palestinians from Jerusalem home claimed by settlers

Updated 17 February 2019
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Israel clears Palestinians from Jerusalem home claimed by settlers

  • Residents of the neighborhood in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem scuffled with police, who stood guard as about a dozen Israeli settlers took possession of the large building

JERUSALEM: Israeli police on Sunday evicted a Palestinian family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, after the supreme court ruled Jewish claimants were the rightful owners.
An AFP photographer said residents of the neighborhood in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem scuffled with police, who stood guard as about a dozen Israeli settlers took possession of the large building.
A police spokesman said two people were detained.
“They disturbed police activities,” he told AFP but could not say if they were subsequently released.
Rania Abu Asab, who lived in the house with her husband, their children and his aunt, stood weeping outside as the settlers raised the Israeli flag on the roof.
“We live there, it’s my house, it’s my whole life,” she said. “They took everything.”
She said the family was compelled to leave behind all its furniture and belongings.
Ir Amim, an Israeli watchdog group which monitors settlement activity in Jerusalem, reported on February 3 that the Abu Asab family had been served an eviction notice ordering them to vacate the property by February 12.
It said family members had lived there since the 1960s.
Israeli NGO Peace Now said the home originally belonged to a Jewish family which fled during the 1948 war which accompanied Israel’s foundation.
East Jerusalem was occupied during that conflict by Jordan until the 1967 Six-Day War, when it was seized by Israel and subsequently annexed, moves never recognized by the international community.
The Abu Asab family lived until 1948 in a neighborhood it fled before eventually moving to the home in question.
Peace Now said in a statement Sunday that under an Israeli law passed in 1950 Palestinians cannot return to homes they fled in 1948.
A 1970 act, however, decreed that property in east Jerusalem abandoned by Jewish owners could be reclaimed.
“The court granted the settlers the house and the Abu Asab family became refugees for the second time,” Peace Now said.