IHEC calls on internationality community to monitor Iraq’s early elections

File – An Iraqi man checks a ballot box

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) called on the international community and organizations to monitor the upcoming parliamentary election, according to a member of the commission.

IHEC Spokesperson Jumana al-Ghalai told state media al-Sabah newspaper that the Iraqi foreign ministry had sent a list including names of 52 Arab and foreign embassies and 19 international organizations to the commission to monitor the election on June 6.

In July, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for early elections to take place on June 6, 2021, which was one of the main demands of anti-government protesters who organized months of mass demonstrations beginning in October 2020.

Iraqi President Barham Salih in November ratified a new election law aimed at giving political independents a better chance of winning seats in parliament.

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.

Iraq’s Parliament passed the final version of the new law in November despite objections from some political parties.

The IHEC spokesperson said more than 25 million people are eligible to vote in the parliamentary elections, but only 15 million voters had so far registered in the biometric system.

Regarding displaced people, Ghalai said the ministry of migration and displaced had established centers to register the internally displaced people in the camps in Nineveh, Sulaimani, Duhok and Erbil.

The vote is held every four years, but anti-government protesters demanded early elections.

Drafting a new election law has been a key demand of the hundreds of thousands of protesters who took to the streets in Baghdad and southern Iraq in October 2019. 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.

On Thursday, the Iraqi president held a meeting with Kadhimi, Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, Head of Iraqi Judicial Council Fayiq Zidan and IHEC members. U.N. envoy to Iraq Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert also participated in the meeting.

A source in the Iraqi parliament told Esta Media Network that the senior officials had agreed to postpone the early parliamentary elections to September.

Haider al-Jaber, Head of Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr’s media office, told reporters that “instigators of sedition” had called to cancel or postpone the elections, adding that Sadr warned against postponing the elections.

Sadr also hoped that, “Everyone shows wisdom and works together for the success of these elections,” Jaber said.

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