Iraq to hold next parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021 — a year early

Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi
Short Url
Updated 02 August 2020

Iraq to hold next parliamentary elections on June 6, 2021 — a year early

  • Voters abandoned major political parties in favor of Shiite leader and former militia chief Moqtada Sadr, who allied with communists on an anti-corruption platform

BAGHDAD: Iraq will hold its next parliamentary elections nearly a year early, the premier has announced, as he seeks to make good on promises he offered when he came to power.

“June 6, 2021, has been fixed as the date for the next legislative elections,” said Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, who took the reins in May after months of protests forced his predecessor to resign.
“Everything will be done to protect and ensure the success of these polls,” Kadhimi said in a televised speech. Elections in Iraq are sometimes marred by violence and often by fraud. The next parliamentary elections had originally been due to take place in May 2022.
But months of protests began in October, with thousands taking to the streets of Baghdad and across the south.
Demonstrators demanded that the political system be dismantled, pointing to endemic corruption and what many see as the malign influence of sectarian interests.
Kadhimi was nominated in April, months after Adel Abdul Mahdi stepped down — the first time a premier has resigned before the end of his term since the US-led invasion of 2003. Kadhimi’s government on Thursday said a total of 560 people had died in protests since October.
Nearly all were demonstrators killed at the hands of the security forces, according to an adviser to the premier.
Abdul Mahdi’s government proposed to parliament a new electoral law that was quickly passed late last year. But the section detailing voting procedures and constituency boundaries has not been finalized, according to diplomats and experts. It was not clear what role Iraq’s election commission — regularly accused of bias — would have in organizing the polls. The UN mission in Iraq welcomed Kadhimi’s announcement. “Early elections fulfil a key popular demand on the road to greater stability and democracy in Iraq,” it said in a statement.

“Everything will be done to protect and ensure the success of these polls.”

Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, Iraq’s premier

“The United Nations is ready to provide support and technical advice as requested by Iraq to ensure free, fair and credible elections that win the public’s trust.”
The 2018 election was marred by a record low turnout of 44.5 percent, according to official figures. Independent observers believe the true turnout was much lower.
Voters abandoned major political parties in favor of Shiite leader and former militia chief Moqtada Sadr, who allied with communists on an anti-corruption platform.
Iraq was earlier this year at the center of heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran, after the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani — alongside Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis — in a January drone strike in Baghdad.
Together with months of political crisis, Iraq is also grappling with a major economic downturn due to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on the demand for oil, the lifeblood of the country’s economy.


Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

Updated 23 min 48 sec ago

Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia return to talks over disputed dam

  • Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir
  • Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions

CAIRO: Three key Nile basin countries on Monday resumed their negotiations to resolve a years-long dispute over the operation and filling of a giant hydroelectric dam that Ethiopia is building on the Blue Nile, officials said.
The talks came a day after tens of thousands of Ethiopians flooded the streets of their capital, Addis Ababa, in a government-backed rally to celebrate the first stage of the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s 74 billion-cubic-meter reservoir.
Ethiopia’s announcement sparked fear and confusion downstream in Sudan and Egypt. Both Khartoum and Cairo have repeatedly rejected the filling of the massive reservoir without reaching a deal among the Nile basin countries.
Ethiopia says the dam will provide electricity to millions of its nearly 110 million citizens, help bring them out of poverty and also make the country a major power exporter.
Egypt, which depends on the Nile River to supply its booming population of 100 million people with fresh water, asserts the dam poses an existential threat.
Sudan, between the two countries, says the project could endanger its own dams — though it stands to benefit from the Ethiopian dam, including having access to cheap electricity and reduced flooding. The confluence of the Blue Nile and the White Nile near Khartoum forms the Nile River that then flows the length of Egypt and into the Mediterranean Sea.
Irrigation ministers of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia took part in Monday’s talks, which were held online amid the coronavirus pandemic. The virtual meeting was also attended by officials from the African Union and South Africa, the current chairman of the regional block, said Sudan’s Irrigation Minister Yasir Abbas. Officials from the US and the European Union were also in attendance, said Egypt’s irrigation ministry.
Technical and legal experts from the three countries would resume their negotiations based on reports presented by the AU and the three capitals following their talks in July, Abbas said. The three ministers would meet online again on Thursday, he added.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed attributed the reservoir’s filling to the torrential rains flooding the Blue Nile — something that occurred naturally, “without bothering or hurting anyone else.”
However, Egypt’s Irrigation Minister Mohammed Abdel-Atty said the filling, without “consultations and coordination” with downstream countries, sent “negative indications that show Ethiopian unwillingness to reach a fair deal.”
Ethiopia’s irrigation ministry posted on its Facebook page that it would work to achieve a “fair and reasonable” use of the Blue Nile water.
Key sticking points remain, including how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the countries will resolve any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan have pushed for a binding agreement, which Ethiopia rejects and insists on non-binding guidelines.