Iraq ratifies new election law, paving way for early vote

Iraq ratifies new election law,  paving  way for early vote
A protester waves an Iraqi flag as security forces surround the protest site during ongoing anti-government demonstrations in Basra, Iraq, on Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani)
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Updated 06 November 2020

Iraq ratifies new election law, paving way for early vote

Iraq ratifies new election law,  paving  way for early vote
  • New law prevents parties from running on unified lists, which in the past helped them easily sweep all the seats in a specific province

BAGHDAD: Iraq’s president ratified on Thursday a new election law aimed at giving political independents a better chance of winning seats in parliament, paving the way for early elections next year. 

President Barham Saleh stressed the need for free, fair and transparent balloting that would restore the Iraqi citizens’ confidence in the legitimacy of the process. 

The new law changes each of the country’s 18 provinces into several electoral districts and prevents parties from running on unified lists, which has in the past helped them easily sweep all the seats in a specific province. Instead, the seats would go to whoever gets the most votes in the electoral districts. 

Drafting a new election law has been a key demand of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who have been taking to the streets in Baghdad and the predominantly Shiite south since last year. The protesters have called for an end to endemic corruption by a political class that is largely seen as having squandered Iraq’s resources through greed and mismanagement over the past years. 

The protests were met with a heavy military crackdown and hundreds were killed. 

The Iraqi president said that although the new law was not perfect, it signaled progress and had the potential to enable future reforms. He called for the quick fulfillment of remaining conditions required to hold elections, including biometric voter registration and reforming the electoral commission. 

A dispute over the mechanism to replace retired judges at the Federal Supreme Court — the body that rules on constitutional disputes — still needs to be settled before the elections can take place. 

“We have to create a political climate which will help alleviate this suffering, as well as ensuring justice and integrity during the choosing of a strong government,” Saleh said in a speech on Thursday. “This is what we aspire to, through an electoral law which will enable Iraqis from all walks of life to vote and to participate in elections, God willing, without the historical problems of forgery, manipulation and pressure.” 

Iraq’s parliament earlier this week passed the final version of the new law despite objections from some political parties. The 329-member chamber was elected in May 2018. The vote is held every four years, but the protesters have been demanding early elections. 

Meanwhile, in Diyala province, north of Baghdad, at least three women were killed and three policemen were wounded in twin blasts on Thursday, according to a security statement. 

The Security Media Cell, affiliated with the armed forces, said the women died when a motorcycle bomb exploded, while the policemen died in a second explosion that went off when they arrived at the scene of the first blast. 

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Fighters loyal Daesh, which was defeated in Iraq in late 2017, have recently stepped up attacks in the area.


UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships
Updated 2 min 28 sec ago

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships

UAE, Cyprus FMs discuss Mediterranean tensions and strategic partnerships
  • The two ministers also discussed the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Both sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areasboth sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areas

DUBAI: The UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs discussed the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and ways of ensuring security and stability in the region with his Cypriot counterpart on Monday,.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan reviewed the prospects of advancing relations with Cyprus in a meeting in Abu Dhabi with Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides, UAE state news agency WAM reported.
The two ministers also discussed the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the importance of enhancing international cooperation to ensure fair and equitable access to the vaccine for every country in the world.
Christodoulides praised the UAE’s significant overall efforts to counter the coronavirus pandemic and the efficiency of its adopted measures in mitigating the economic and social effects of the crisis.
During his visit to the UAE, the Cypriot minister also met with the Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), Saqr Ghobash, accompanied with the Ambassador of Cyprus to the UAE, Yannis Michaelides.
During the meeting, both sides discussed ways of strengthening ties in multiple sectors, including in parliamentary areas.
Ghobash said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on their parliamentary cooperation is required, in addition to reinforcing the role of joint parliamentary friendship committees.
A parliamentary friendship committee between the two countries will hold a meeting in the first quarter of 2021, Ghobash said, and stressed the importance of improving their coordination during global parliamentary events.
Christodoulides said that the UAE was a leading regional and international stature, noting that it is a strategic partner of his country.
He also conveyed the invitation of the President of the House of Representatives of Cyprus to Ghobash to visit Cyprus as head of a parliamentary delegation, to discuss ways of reinforcing their parliamentary ties.