Tags: Iraq's legislative election, Iraqi elections commission
Posted by Reidar Visser on Wednesday, 10 February 2010
It is a little unclear why this is not all over the newswires, but at any rate: The Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) today released the list of 6,172 approved candidates for the 7 March elections. This supposedly includes all candidates whose documents were found to be in good order and who are not subject to de-Baathification.
Until now, the Iraqi National Alliance (which enjoys a “special relationship” with the IHEC) has been the sole entity to publish all its candidate lists. The newly released material obviously includes thousands of names that are relatively unknown, but at least some characteristics of the competing top candidates in various provinces can be sketched out at this point. Starting in the south, in Basra the big battle will likely be between the Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and State of Law (SOL). As has emerged earlier, INA has put a Sadrist plus the ex-Iraqiyya representative Wail Abd al-Latif at the top of their list alongside some important local figures like Amir al-Fayiz of the Shaykhi community. Maliki’s top candidate in Basra is Safa al-Din al-Safi, a long-time minister (most recently acting planning minister); Abd al-Hadi al-Hassani, an influential figure in the oil and gas committee is relatively far down the list at number eleven, Khayrallah al-Basri, previously with Iraqiyya, is number eight. Elsewhere in the “deep south”, INA already has revealed a list of well-known figures in the second-biggest prize to be won – Dhi Qar – including Adil Abd al-Mahdi, Bahaa al-Aaraji and ex-governor Alwan. SOL has now placed an independent candidate from a local religious family, Muhammad Mahdi al-Nasiri, at top of their list, with minister of state Shirwan al-Waili third. In the symbolically important Najaf, INA has Nassar al-Rubayi, a Sadrist, on top whereas Maliki has put Khalid Atiyya as his number one candidate in Qadisiyya.
Tags: Iraqi elections commission
Posted by Reidar Visser on January 25, 2010
The Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) has earlier queried the constitutional court about the relationship between excluded party leaders and the entities they represent. Last December it asked whether it would be constitutional to ban an entity if its leader were excluded; the court replied it did not want to issue an opinion on this and said the matter rested with the IHEC. It was subsequently rumoured that the accountability and justice board wanted to exclude between 10 and 15 entities, and it was thought that there might be an attempt at linking the banning of entity heads and their entire parties.
Today, the IHEC has acted in a bolder fashion. Referring to section 5 of CPA order 97 from 2004, they have cancelled the approval of 9 entities previously slated to take part in the elections. CPA order 97 is an unmistakable Paul Bremer creation. It pompously begins, “Pursuant to my authority as Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority…” The relevant section simply runs as follows, “All further matters regarding the regulation and certification of political entities lie with the Commission exclusively”. Very general and wide-ranging powers indeed. The document was signed on 7 June 2004; the “commission” referred to is what was then the “Independent Electoral Commission”, which later became the “higher commission”.
The entities affected include two sub-entities within Iraqiyya (most famously the Hiwar front of Salih al-Mutlak); two parties within Unity of Iraq; the party of Nehru Abd al-Karim; one party within State of Law, and the rest smaller lists and independents. The commission does not spell out what the annulment of the approval of these entities will mean in practice. It says the candidates in the elections cannot use the names and logos of these parties. That may possibly mean that the practical implications are limited – the case of Iraqiyya is in any case more convoluted because the banned Hiwar technically merged with Wifaq to form a new movement or haraka last autumn, distinct from the coalition, and Ayad Allawi is the head of it.
What this whole issue shows is that once more the IHEC is acting in concert with the accountability and justice board. The reversion to a carte-blanche article in a law authored by Paul Bremer – no specific coherent legal justification for the exclusion is offered, just a brutal attempt at asserting boundless power – serves to highlight the murkiness of the waters that we are headed for with this election.
Postscript: Finally, one more detail. By highlighting the names of the party heads in the list of excluded entities, one gets the impression that the IHEC wants to focus on the de-Baathification status of the leader as basis for exclusion. But apparently, four of these leaders are not on the blacklist of the 511 excluded candidates, even though some expected them to be there! The only Arshad on the list is called Arshad Husayn Muhammad Yunis, and yet the party of Arshad Ahmad Muhammad Mustafa (Zibari, a Kurd) has been banned. Similarly, Jamal Nasir al-Karbuli and Saad Asim Abbud al-Janabi have had their lists banned, and yet the list of 511 contains only 4 Jamal and 4 Saad, none of whom have parental names that fits. That inevitably raises the question of whether there is any relationship between the de-Baathification status of the leaders and the banned parties at all, and whether the IHEC thinks that it can outlaw whatever list it bloody well wants to exclude, even for no good reason, as long as it is done in the name of Paul Bremer’s sweeping edict from 2004.
Tags: Iraqi elections commission
Posted by Reidar Visser on January 15, 2010
One of the bewildering aspects of the recent decision to bar Salih al-Mutlak and some 500 other candidates from standing as candidates in the 7 March election is the apparent resolve of both the accountability and justice board as well as the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC) to enforce the ban also at the level of political entities, where some 15 parties are expected to be excluded. The rationale is the idea that an entire political entity should automatically meet the same fate as its political leader.
But where exactly is the legal basis for that approach? One would have thought that the source for such a momentous and far-reaching decision would be easily available. But it does not appear to be in the 2005 constitution. Nor is it included in what today remains of the 2005 elections law. It cannot be found in the series of amendments to that law that were adopted last autumn. Maybe it could be hidden in section 6 or 7 of the provincial elections law from 2008, which was added to the parliamentary election law through a simple cross-reference in the amendments last autumn? No, it is not there either. Even a quick skimming of the various directives recently issued by the IHEC in relation to the upcoming elections fails to return an obvious reference of relevance.
The fact is that the legal basis does not appear to exist. Rather, it has apparently been made up. The reason we can make such a sweeping claim is that the IHEC itself revealed its uncertainty about the matter back in December last year, when it sent a query to the federal supreme court on the subject. Referring to article 7 of the constitution (which outlaws racist and terrorist parties etc., “and in particular the Baath party”), it asks precisely whether an entire political entity is automatically banned if its leader is affected by de-Baathification measures. The federal supreme court merely answers that this is outside its jurisdiction and is for the IHEC to decide.
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Objections by the Kurds, the IHEC and UNAMI; the Legal Committee Comes Up with Two More Alternatives on KerkukOctober 30, 2009 at 11:07 am | Posted in Turkmens | Leave a comment
Tags: Iraqi elections commission, Kerkuk
Objections by the Kurds, the IHEC and UNAMI; the Legal Committee Comes Up with Two More Alternatives on Kirkuk
Posted by Reidar Visser on October 29, 2009
Today’s brief proceedings in the Iraqi parliament made it clear that it was indeed the objections of the Iraqi elections commission (IHEC), supported by UNAMI and the Kurds (who boycotted), that prevented a vote on the elections law. Meanwhile, the legal committee came up with two more alternatives on Kirkuk.
The first alternative involves holding a vote using the 2009 registers, to be followed by a scrutiny of those registers within one year to find whether there are irregularities amounting to more than 38% “in the registers” (a little unclear what the percentage really refers to, given as واذا كان هناك خلل بنسبة 38% في السجل يتم الغاء نتائج) in which case the annulment of the result will follow.
The second alternative is another creative multi-constituency arrangement. Once more, an explicit ethno-sectarian distribution formula has been avoided, even if three of the four proposed constituencies seem intended to guarantee some kind of minimum communal representation: Hawija, Taza and Shwan will each have three deputies (apparently aimed at Arab, Turkmen and Kurdish constituencies) whereas Kirkuk itself will remain fully competitive with 5 representatives. This seems to over-represent the peripheral constituencies to a certain extent over Kirkuk, but the proposal has the clear advantage of keeping the potential for cross-sectarian voting in Kirkuk alive, while at the same time apparently offering each of the main communities a minimum fallback position in their areas of demographic concentration. In the case of the Turkmens it is particularly easy to sympathise with this approach: As a medium-sized minority they are in many ways the bravest of the Iraqi nationalists since they so far have been competing without guaranteed quotas of the kind offered to the micro-minorities (Shabak, Yazidis, Christians, Sabaeans), and also without a de facto guaranteed minimum vote in bastions of governorate-level territorial concentration (of the kind enjoyed by the Shiite and Sunni Arabs and the Kurds).
All in all, while both of these options do preserve a special status for Kirkuk, the first one seems highly diluted given the high threshold for annulling elections (if correctly specified in the official report from today’s proceedings). One can get the impression that the second one could conceivably have greater appeal to Iraqi nationalists. Be that is at may, the rapidity with which the Iraqi parliament seemed to accept today’s highhanded intervention by the IHEC is quite shocking. The Sadrist Fawzi Ikram Tarazi, himself a Turkmen, has been one of the few parliamentarians to protest to the Iraqi press so far, suggesting that at least some of the non-Kurdish members of the legal committee would be more than happy to see endless procrastination and a reversion to the closed-list system of 2005 by way of timeout. In this they are ably assisted by the Kurds, who appear to receive full support from UNAMI and IHEC in torpedoing any proposal that does not conform one hundred per cent to their own preferences.
A new element in the mix is the release by the US embassy in Baghdad of a somewhat cryptic joint statement by General Ray Odierno and Ambassador Christopher Hill. It goes as follows: “As Iraqi authorities prepare to adopt an elections law, we reiterate our view that the rules, procedures, and decisions adopted for the January elections should apply only to that election. They should not serve as precedents for future elections or for future political settlements related to Article 140, demographic change, disputed boundaries, or other contested issues.”
In the first place, this is a flagrant and remarkably public interference in Iraqi affairs of a kind not seen since the Bush days (and the 2003–2005 period in particular). Secondly, the statement really is quite hard to decipher! The first sentence and the first part of the subsequent one seems to suggest that this election law should be unique to the January 2010 elections, thereby presumably opening space for special treatment of Kirkuk (the Kurds want it to be treated as an ordinary governorate; if that procedure had been acceptable to others and therefore was adopted there would have been no need to restrict the application of the law to 2010 as per the Odierno/Hill recommendation). The second part of the second sentences raises doubts, however. One would expect the logic to continue to flow in a consistent fashion, i.e. a reassurance to the Kurds that any special arrangements arrived at for Kirkuk should not prejudge the outcome of future negotiations over the city (the Kurds want to keep article 140 of the constitution sacred). But is that what is being said? After all, the standard argument by the Kurds and UNAMI has been roughly “the election law should not serve as diversion or substitute for political settlements related to Article 140, demographic change, disputed boundaries, or other contested issues”. But the American statement clearly says “precedents”, which seems to create the exact opposite logic, i.e. a rather indiscreet American initiative to convince the Kurds to be more accommodating. So far, the PUK has published the statement on its website without adding any comment.
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Tags: Disputed Territories in Iraq, Iraq Constitution, Iraq Elections, Iraqi elections commission, Kerkuk
Posted by Reidar Visser on October 16, 2009
The Iraqi parliament has adjourned again for the weekend, ignoring the demand from the Iraqi elections commission for a legal framework for the next parliamentary elections by today’s deadline. That deadline in turn reflected the time needed to make practical preparations for elections to be held on 16 January 2010, the day singled out by the Iraqi federal supreme court as the last possible date for holding new elections within the constitutional framework. For now, there is talk about resuming the debate when parliament reconvenes on Sunday, with a possible vote on Monday.
What is going on here is political theatre of the most despicable kind. In reality, there is general agreement on the broad outline of an elections law with open lists, governorate-level constituencies and proportional representation, with only one real issue of disagreement – what to do with Kirkuk. Many parliamentarians want special arrangements for Kirkuk since it is the only Iraqi governorate where there are allegations of widespread manipulation of the demographic balance in the post-2003 period with the specific aim of changing the political status of the governorate; conversely the two biggest Kurdish parties (the alleged perpetrators of the manipulations) reject this. However, even in this thorny area, a window for compromise has materialised recently through the emergence of at least two constructive compromise solutions. One involves going back to the 2004 voting registers; another the appointment of a committee to scrutinise the existing lists of voters. Either solution would recognise Kirkuk as a special case, but, importantly, without embracing the previous maximalist demands of the opposing factions.
Tags: Iraqi elections commission, Kerkuk, Kurdification of Kerkuk, Parliamentary Elections Iraq
by Reidar Visser on September 28, 2009
Iraqis are heading towards parliamentary elections early next year where most parties are likely to tout identical messages: “Yes, yes to Unity”, “No, no to Sectarianism”, “No to Division”, “No to Quotas”… Additionally, voters will discover that politicians who for years have been declared enemies now suddenly run on the same lists, forming the most unlikely mega coalitions. Indeed, these days even some of the past architects of Iraq’s partition are likely to employ unity rhetoric. So how can Iraqis be expected to find out who is sincere about their Iraqi nationalism and who is merely posturing?
Well, they could get an excellent opportunity over the next couple of weeks. The reason is very simple: For practical reasons, the Iraqi elections commission has asked the Iraqi parliament to come up with an elections law (or a revised version of the existing one) before 15 October; if they are unable to do so the existing law from 2005 will have to be used if elections are to go ahead on 16 January 2010. In line with this, the Iraqi government has prepared a draft for a revised version of the existing law which incorporates new elements from the legislation for the January 2009 local elections – including a popular open-list system giving voters greater say in deciding which politicians will benefit from their vote, as well as a ban on the use of places of worship and images of religious leaders for election propaganda purposes. Consensus on all these issues has been achieved and only one significant question remains: what to do with Kirkuk, also known as the Tamim governorate.
Tags: Amin Farhan, Iraqi elections commission, Kurdish intimidations, Kurdish manipulations, Yezidis
GMT 1-27-2009 0:24:30
Assyrian International News Agency
Sinjar, Iraq (AINA) — The leader of the Yezidi Movement for Progress and Reform, Amin Farhan, accused last Thursday the Kurdish Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barazani, of election violations in the mainly Yezidi area in northern Iraq, reported Voices of Iraq. The KDP party is accused of using Iraqi army soldiers of Kurdish origin to carry out election campaign work, such as putting up posters in Yezidi towns and villages and giving special protection to KDP officials who hold rallies.
“The Yezidi Movement for Progress and Reform has filed a complaint with the Iraqi Election Commission office in Mosul, providing proof in the form of video tapes of the acts of the soldiers”, said Amin Farhan, who is the only independent Yezidi member of parliament in Iraq.
In the 2005 Iraqi elections, Kurdish militias attached to the KDP party rigged elections in minority areas, preventing tens of thousands of Assyrians and Yezidies from casting their votes. The U.S. Department of State’s 2005 Human Rights Country Report for Iraq states:
“In the January elections, many of the mostly non-Muslim residents on the Nineveh Plain were unable to vote. Some polling places did not open, ballot boxes were not delivered, and incidents of voter fraud and intimidation occurred. These problems resulted from administrative breakdowns on voting day and the refusal of Kurdish security forces to allow ballot boxes to pass to predominantly Christian villages.”
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Tags: Babel, Basra, Dhi Qar, Diyala, Iraqi elections commission, Maysan, Najaf, Reidar Visser, Sadrists
By Reidar Visser (www.historiae.org)
22 December 2008
So far, it has been difficult to discuss the upcoming provincial elections in Iraq because only the names of the parties and the party leaders have been made public. But now the Iraqi elections commission has published the candidate lists for individual governorates, showing which parties will run where, as well as the names of all persons on each list.