Special Ballot for Army Causes Concern

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.

Two days before the rest of the country does, over one million members of Iraq’s military will vote in general elections. The questions are clear: Will the army simply be loyal to the current government? Or is there more ill will toward the Prime Minister now? And how will security problems in Anbar affect military voting?

According to Iraqi electoral law, the country’s security forces should vote two days before the rest of the population. Which means that in just under a fortnight Iraq’s army, police and other military will go to the polls.

Over one million members of the security forces – 1,023,829 to be precise - will be partaking in this special ballot, Safaa al-Musawi, the spokesperson for the Independent High Electoral Commission, or IHEC, told NIQASH; his organisation is responsible for overseeing elections in Iraq. “IHEC has distributed electronic voter cards to these forces and they all have the letter ‘F’ on them,” al-Musawi explained. “Their cards are also a different colour.”

The voters possessing these cards will make their choices on April 28, at 532 polling centres with 2,557 polling stations that IHEC will open for the special ballot, al-Musawi noted.

The fact that the security forces will vote in such a sizeable block is a matter of concern to many in Iraq. And they worry for several reasons.

One fear is that, because senior members of the Iraqi military are generally considered fairly loyal to the current Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, pressure – either direct or indirect - will be on military voters to support his party. After all al-Maliki has appointed many of the senior members of the military and his government pays everyone else. Additionally recent reports suggest that the Iraqi army is now mostly composed of Shiite Muslims – al-Maliki himself is Shiite Muslim and his ruling political coalition was mostly composed of Shiite Muslim parties.

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