Tag Archive | "Independent High Electoral Commission"

Official Election Results Announced 25th of May

By John Lee

Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission has confirmed that the final official results of the April 30th elections will be announced on the 25th of May.

So far a number of sources have released preliminary results, or what they have described as a first count. Elsewhere, various parties have claimed an approximate number of seats while PM Maliki has claimed he has enough seats to retain premiership.

It is notable that in the past, early announcements of election results have tended to be unreliable. 

(Source: AIN) 

(Image: Essam al-Sudani)

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Iraqis Brave Violence To Vote

By John Lee.

Millions of Iraqis went to cast their votes today as the country went into a state of lockdown for elections. Polling began at 7am and will close at 6pm.

Previous elections in Iraq have been marred by considerable violence, while 50 were killed on Monday as Iraq’s armed forces cast their votes.

Aside from the fact that Iraqis will be braving a grim security situation to vote, the elections themselves will be a considerable feat.

A new electronic voting system is in place and has apparently led to delays in some areas. According to the BBC almost 22 million people are registered to vote and will be served by nearly 50,000 polling stations.

Analysts are highly divided over the outcome, although most expect Maliki will gain the most votes, possibly by a narrow margin. Some 9000 candidates are competing for 328 seats in parliament.

(Source: BBC)

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Baghdad Key in Electoral Battle

This article was originally published by Niqash. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

As a province, Baghdad has the biggest population and therefore gets the biggest share of representative seats in Iraq’s Parliament. And unlike in other provinces, the population is far from homogenous. Campaigning is particularly fierce here and results in the capital city could provide insights into who voters in more uniform provinces will choose.

Baghdad is well known as the “dark horse” of the upcoming general elections, due to be held next week on April 30. With a population of around 9 million, it is the biggest city in Iraq and its people come from every part of Iraq – they represent a wide mix of religious, political and ethnic affiliations.

As the biggest city in the country Baghdad is also allocated the most space in the Iraqi Parliament – 69 seats to be exact, with a quarter of these allocated to female politicians and another two seats allocated to Christian and Chaldean minorities. Just over 3,300 candidates are vying for a place in Parliament – most of them are men; around 1,000 are women.

Which makes Baghdad the best bet and a town of opportunity for candidates – here they all have the opportunity to compete for a quarter of all seats available, no matter what their ethnic or religious allegiance.

This plays a role in shaping local electoral strategies, writes Ahmed Ali in a detailed primer on the Iraqi elections, released this week by the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington.

Baghdad, Ali writes, “will be highly competitive, given its high population and mixed demographic. Furthermore, the changing disposition of Baghdad voters’ political inclinations makes the province more permissive for many parties. As such, elections in Baghdad may provide a lens upon the population.”

Election campaigning in Baghdad was expected to be intense and it has been. And the most intense contest has been between Iraqi politics’ traditional opponents, the Shiite Muslim and Sunni Muslim parties.

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US Ambassador Praises IHEC’s Election Efforts

U.S. Ambassador Stephen Beecroft (pictured) and U.S. Embassy staff met on Tuesday April 22 with Mr. Sarbast Rashid Mustafa, the Chairman of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and Mr. Muqdad Alsharify, the Chief Electoral Officer of IHEC.

Chairman Mustafa and CEO Alsharify outlined for the Ambassador the extensive plan that IHEC has in place for the national election on April 30.

The Ambassador emphasized his appreciation for the professionalism and thoroughness of IHEC’s work under often very difficult circumstances and offered his condolences for IHEC employees who have been killed or injured as a result of this essential work.

The Ambassador expressed the expectation of the United States that the electoral process would reflect the will of the Iraqi people and that the Government of Iraq would take every measure to ensure that Iraqi citizens would be able to exercise their right to vote in a secure and fair environment.

He relayed that he is confident that IHEC would succeed in its mission of achieving a result that would be credible and represent the democratic decision of the Iraqi people.

The United States has consistently emphasized with Iraqi officials from across the political spectrum of the importance for the election to take place on time and has fully supported the independence of IHEC as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

Chairman Mustafa extended his appreciation for the technical support provided by the U.S. Government for conducting transparent and credible elections in Iraq.

(Source: Embassy of the United States)

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Full List of Election Candidates

By Reidar Visser.

The following article was published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

The Iraqi election campaign formally began Tuesday, but the official candidate lists weren’t published until Thursday evening, just before the start of the Iraqi weekend. Altogether, the lists contain the names of 9,045 candidates.

A noteworthy general point is that unlike previous years, no provisional list was published pending appeals regarding de-Baathification and other candidacy problems. In other words, the current list purports to be the final. IHEC maintains that, after its latest showdown with parliament (in which it prevailed after parliament decided to backtrack), all appeal options have been exhausted.

As for the characteristics of the main lists, at least a few tendencies can be noted in this material.

Starting with the Shiite Islamists lists, there is the State of Law list of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (277). Many of its top candidates run in Baghdad: In addition to Maliki himself at top of the list, deputy PM Hussein Shahristani is second and Haydar al-Abbadi is third.

In Basra, former governor Khalaf Abd al-Samad is the top candidate, and several prominent provincial council members are now trying their luck as MP candidates. In Qadisiya, Khalid al-Attiya, the former deputy speaker of parliament, is the State of Law candidate number one. A notable cooption from Sunni-secular circles is Iskandar Witwit (formerly Iraqiyya deputy; now State of Law candidate no 9 in Babel).

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Election Campaigning Begins

By John Lee.

Election campaigning began formally today across Iraq, Asharq al-Awsat reports.

Perhaps optimistically, they suggest this marks the end of the crisis with the Independent High Electoral Commission, following their return to work last week.

Campaign posters and billboards already adorn many parts of Baghdad, as seen in this Al Arabiya slideshow.

Radio Free Iraq has noted how the fact that campaigning has begun on April fools day is a source of amusement for many Iraqis.

(Source: Asharq al-Awsat)



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IHEC Retracts Resignation

By John Lee.

It was news that stunned many observers, but was met with resignation by others expecting chaos surrounding April’s general elections in Iraq: Last week, Iraq’s entire Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) resigned en masse.

That decision was blamed by the commission on “political interference” over a proposal by the judiciary to disqualify candidates judged to be “of ill repute.”

Some blamed Maliki for meddling with the commission’s work, but Reidar Visser has noted that this time it is not only the PM who is trying to manipulate Iraq’s state institutions for personal gain.

Now IHEC appear to have had an emergency meeting with UN envoy to Iraq Nikolay Mladenov (pictured) and released a statement regarding their return:

“The decision has been taken to withdraw the resignations and resume our duties in full confidence”.

(Source: Reuters)


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Analysis of IHEC Resignation

The following  was  published by Reidar Visser, an historian of Iraq educated at the University of Oxford. It is reproduced here with the author’s permission. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On Tuesday, the members of the Iraqi electoral commission IHEC collectively presented their resignations to the head of the commission.

If the mass resignation becomes effective, it will leave Iraq without the required institutional framework to carry out parliamentary elections scheduled for 30 April. First a word on the legal aspects of the resignations.

It has been suggested by both Sadrists and ISCI leader Ammar al-Hakim that the resignations are subject to approval by the Iraqi parliament. This view does not seem to square with law no. 11 from 2007 that regulates the work of the commission.

In article 6, first, it is stipulated that the membership of commissioners can be terminated upon presentation of a resignation according to the bylaws of the commission.

There is no mention of parliament at all. The bylaws of IHEC, adopted in 2013 (PDFhere, starts on p. 21), stipulate that any member can present their resignation to the commission and that it will become effective after 30 days unless other action is taken.

The collective resignation presented to the head of the commission does seem somewhat unorthodox in that respect, but there seems to be no doubt that legally the matter remains within the commission itself. <!–-nextpage–-> As for the substantive context, it is fairly clear that the resignation of the IHEC members comes as a response to the latest legislative action by the Iraqi parliament. This aimed at enshrining a particular interpretation of the Iraqi election’s law concept of “good conduct” as a criterion for election candidacies.

Specifically, through its focus on the presumption of innocence parliament effectively negated IHEC’s past practice of using multiple legal charges against an individual (without conviction) as basis for banning them from standing in elections. Of course, to what extent it is within the power of the Iraqi parliament to adopt a simple “decision” in order to rectify the vagueness of its own past legislative efforts is open to debate.

In the past, such decisions have materialized from time to time, for example in December 2009 when it was used to enshrine the exact distribution of seats between provinces (conversely, in November 2013 when the new election law was passed, an attachment to the law itself stipulated the seat distribution).

Conceivably, a more correct (but more time-consuming) method for challenging what is  perceived as IHEC highhandedness in banning election candidates would be to complain the procedures to the administrative court (rather than the supreme court), which deals with the application of laws in force, and which could in theory address the methods used to determine what constitutes “good conduct”. <!–-nextpage–-> In any case, the comparable parliament “decision” from 2009 on seat distribution was adhered to, of course, not least because it reflected a consensus that had emerged after months of parliamentary wrangling.

This time things are very different. It is fairly clear that the parliament action to define “good conduct” was taken by enemies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in parliament (chiefly the bloc of parliament speaker Nujayfi along with some Shiite discontent support) who were concerned about possible collusion between the PM and the Iraqi judiciary in excluding political enemies from the next elections.

For his part, Maliki has responded to the parliamentary move by questioning its legal status, describing it as an “incomplete” legislative act, thereby evoking past supreme court rulings that basically stipulate that every legislative act in Iraq should pass through the cabinet before becoming law.

Reflecting the changing of the political colour of the commission seated in September 2012, thought to be more favourable to Maliki than the previous one, IHEC has implicitly come out on the side of Maliki in this debate. (Possibly due to laziness, some pundits have construed the current conflict as a case of IHEC standing up against Maliki: They should carefully study the chronology of events and how the recent parliament decision immediately prompted an IHEC escalation, as well as this interview with one of the commission members, which at one point goes far in criticising parliament interference with the electoral judicial panel).

The decision by parliament itself should be appealable to the federal supreme court as a matter of constitutional interpretation. Indeed, if Maliki wants to avoid speculation that he is sincere about having elections on time, he should probably file such a complaint in any case. <!–-nextpage–-> In all of this is it is noteworthy how the battle lines have changed somewhat from 2010, when there was also a pre-election struggle related to candidacy qualifications.

Back then, the struggle related to de-Baathifcation, and the tension increasingly took on a sectarian nature. So far, despite heightened sectarian tension regionally, de-Baathification has been in the background this year, with the MPs complaining about exclusion from the upcoming elections representing both Sunni and Shiite-leaning political parties.

But the elections lists must be published soon if there is to be any time left for campaigning, and there could of course be surprises hidden in them. All in all, Iraq is beginning to look dysfunctional. The president is incapacitated, the annual budget has not been passed, and now the threatened IHEC resignation. And yet there is something quintessentially Iraqi about resignation threats – a staple of Iraqi politics since the days of the British mandate.

It will be remembered that half of the Sunni and secular politicians in parliament  recently threatened to resign without following through. There may still be possibilities for compromises ahead of 30 April, but time is fast running out.

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