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Iraq parliament confirms May 12 as date for elections

In this file photo, members of the Iraqi parliament gather to vote on Iraq’s new government at the parliament headquarters in Baghdad, September 8, 2014. (REUTERS)
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Parliament on Monday set May 12 as the date for holding national elections despite calls from the country’s Sunni community to delay the vote until the return of the millions displaced by the fight against Daesh.
MP Abbas Al-Bayati said lawmakers at a session in the Shiite-dominated house “unanimously” approved the date proposed by the government.
The country’s Supreme Court issued a ruling on Sunday against any delay to the elections.
The over three-year fight against Daesh has left most of the Sunni areas in northern and western Iraq in ruins, and poor public services have exacerbated the situation. The Sunnis argue that the current situation will make it hard for voters to update their information ahead of elections or cast their ballots.
Parliament Speaker Salim Al-Jabouri said the government is committed to returning the displaced and to creating a peaceful atmosphere for the elections. All weapons must be in the hands of the government during election campaigns and the voting day, Al-Jabouri added.
Prime Minister Haider Abadi has vowed to lead a “cross-sectarian” list, building on last year’s victory against Daesh. Three separate list — led by Shiite paramilitary troop leaders that fought Daesh, ex-Premier Nouri Al-Maliki who currently serves as one of three vice presidents, and followers of firebrand Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr — are expected to be his main rivals.
Despite the declared victory over Daesh, Iraqi and US officials have warned it will likely to continue with insurgent-style attacks. Last week, two suicide attacks killed at least 46 and wounded more than 100.
Separately, an Iraqi court said Sunday it had condemned to death by hanging a German woman of Moroccan origin after finding her guilty of belonging to Daesh.
She is one of hundreds of foreign militants held by Iraqi authorities. The German was sentenced for providing “logistical support and helping the terrorist group to carry out crimes,” said court spokesman Abdel Settar Bayraqdar.
“The accused admitted during interrogations that she left Germany for Syria then Iraq to join Daesh with her two daughters, who married members of the terrorist organization,” he said.
The woman, who was not identified, has 30 days to appeal, after which she could be executed, said legal expert Ezzedine Al-Mohammadi.
She is believed to be the first European woman to be sentenced to death in Iraq in relation to Daesh.
A judicial source told AFP that one of the woman’s two daughters had been killed while with the militants.
The German media has reported that a German named Lamia K. and her daughter left Mannheim in August 2014 and were arrested by Iraqi forces during the final stages of the battle to oust Daesh from its stronghold Mosul last July.
At least two other German women are also in prison in Iraq, whose authorities have not officially said how many militants were taken prisoner during the battle against the terrorist group.
A German teenage girl suspected of joining Daesh was also arrested in Mosul, according to Germany’s justice department.
Iraqi commanders and Iraqi Kurdish fighters say hundreds of Daesh fighters gave themselves up during the battle, while others are said to have escaped by blending in with civilians fleeing the fighting.

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