Majority support federal court decision to amend election bill

June 22, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Kirkuk, 21 June 2018, Federal Court hearing concerning the amendment of election law in parliament. Photo: Federal Court.

Kirkuk, 21 June 2018, Federal Court hearing concerning the amendment of election law in parliament. Photo: Federal Court.

 

KirkukNow

The vast majority of political parties in Iraq and the Kurdistan region welcomed the federal court decision on the election amendment bill, waiting for the manual recount to resolve the case once and for all.

The court approved all the sections of the bill amendment on Thursday, except the third section which deems to dissolve the special voting, that of the security forces and peshmerga, IDPs and overseas votes in the Kurdistan region.

 

Iraqi parties

While the vast majority of political entities, including the Marching Onward alliance of Muqtada al-Sadr and the bloc led by the current prime minister Haidar al-Abadi, did not reject the decision, they offered some notes on the manual recount process.

The Marching Onward alliance of Muqtada al-Sadr, with the highest number of seats in parliament according to the parliamentary election of 12 May, issued a nine-pointed statement concerning the manual recount. al-Sadr called all the political parties to show restraint, with those who do not favour the manual recount. He also urged that the process would be completed on a specific timeline without any bias. However, he warned of any attempt to repeat the election and insisted that the security forces should stay away from influencing the decision.

Meanwhile, the spokesman of Victory alliance led by al-Abadi, Hussein Adli, urged the political entities to be compliant with the federal court decision.

Kirkuk, The sorting and counting centre of 2014 election. Photo: Karwan Salhi

Kirkuk, The sorting and counting centre of 2014 election. Photo: Karwan Salhi

Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri, a prominent Sunni figure, expressed his support to the court decision and reiterated that the court showed its independence.

Ayad al-Allawi and Osama al-Nujaifi, the vice presidents, supported the federal court decision and considered it as an attempt to consolidate people’s will through the manual recount.

In Kirkuk province, where the parliamentary election caused some discontent between the different components through one-month-long protest, the vast majority of political parties welcomed the court decision.

The Turkmen Front and Arab Council in Kirkuk, which together could win six seats in Kirkuk after the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, considered the decision as a rectification of the fraud in the election process.

 

Kurdish parties

In the Kurdistan region, the parliamentary election divided the political parties into two camps, where PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were in a camp against all other political entities which were against the election results.

KDP appealed against the election amendment bill over the special voting, and the federal court approved the appeal. The party considers itself as the winner of the court case.

The head of the KDP bloc in Iraqi parliament Arafat Karam said his party was pleased with the court decision and does not fear the manual recount process at all. While PUK, which was accused the most of “rigging the election results” was not happy with the amendment, expressed its support for the court decision.

PUK MP in Baghdad Rebwar Taha told the media outlets of his party, “The federal court made the right decision to recount the votes manually, and it was clear that the manual recount takes place only in those centres where there is suspicion, not all Iraq.” He also said that the court’s decision not to disband the special voting of the security and peshmerga was responding to the appeal of the PUK.

Numerous parties expressed their discontent over the election results last since they were announced, and urged a manual recount as they claimed the results were rigged.

Change Movement (Gorran), as a staunch proponent of the idea, attempted to amend the election bill, and thus express their support to the federal court decision. The head of the Election Room of Change Zmnako Jalal said, “We are waiting to the see the decision implemented and the process of the manual recount.”

Kirkuk, 12 May 2018, The parliamentary election day in Kirkuk was celebrated with traditional music. Photo: Karwan Salhi

Kirkuk, 12 May 2018, The parliamentary election day in Kirkuk was celebrated with traditional music. Photo: Karwan Salhi

The leader of the Kurdistan Islamic Union Salahadin Bahadin also expressed his support while urging caution to prevent further fraud. He said both decisions of the manual recount and replacing the Independent High Electoral Commission members with judges were appropriate.

The leader of the newly-formed Coalition for Democracy Barham Salih also considered the decision as a starting point to retrieve people’s votes and resolve fraud issue. On his personal Facebook page, Salih said, “Relevant parties should assist implementing the federal court decision concerning the election law amendment.”

The Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), another Kurdish party which was disgruntled with the results, also praised the decision of the federal court that considers the manual recount to be a legal process.

The KIG Leadership Council said in a statement, “The implementation of this decision will prove that some parties have conducted fraud.”

According to the amendment, all the votes of 12 May parliamentary election will be manually recounted, with the presence of the representatives of certain political parties. The bill also says that the nine members of the Commissioners Council of IHEC will be replaced and nine judges work in their stead.

However, the court rejected the third section where the votes of IDPs, overseas and the special voting are dissolved in the Kurdistan region. The article was considered unconstitutional.

More than 10 million people, which is 44% of eligible voters, voted in the 12 May parliamentary election in Iraq. However, tensions emerged in some areas due to suspicion over rigging the election results.

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