Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 September 2020

Iraqi President calls on Parliament to ratify date for snap election

Barham Salih says vote is essential for political reform

Iraq's President Barham Salih bhas support Mustafa Al Kadhimi's call for an early election. AP
Iraq's President Barham Salih bhas support Mustafa Al Kadhimi's call for an early election. AP

Iraqi President Barham Salih urged Parliament on Tuesday to ratify a date for an early election, stressing how necessary they are for political reform.

The next parliamentary election had originally been due to take place in May 2022 but Parliament must ratify the early election date before any process can move forward.

“The President calls on the House of Representatives to approve amendments to the election law as soon as possible and to send it to the Presidency for approval and implementation,” a statement by Mr Salih’s office said.

Last Friday, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi called for early elections to be held next June, a key promise he made when taking office.

It comes as the country faces challenges including a health crisis following the outbreak of coronavirus and an economic crisis due to the drop in oil revenue and export.

Mr Al Kadhimi is also attempting to rein in armed militias that oppose him.

“Calling for early free and fair elections is considered one of the requirements for political reform which is a public entitlement,” said the statement by Mr Salih’s office.

Elections in the country are often marred by voter fraud and violence.

Iraq's political crisis cannot be "procrastinated", said the statement, adding that "a courageous national decision must be made that stems from the people's right to choose an independent government through free and fair elections."

The prime minister took office in May, replacing a prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, who resigned amid a bloody crackdown against protesters demanding his ouster.

Early elections would fulfil a key demand of anti-government protesters. The demonstrations since October 2019 have resulted in the killings of hundreds by security forces and gunmen suspected of links to armed groups.

Last year, Mr Mahdi's government passed a new electoral law, but the voting procedures and constituency boundaries are yet to be set.

The new law allows voters to choose individual politicians rather than selecting from a list of political parties, in order to make elections fairer.

Each parliamentarian will represent a specific electoral district instead of groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

Yet anti-government protesters have called for an overhaul of the entire political system that they see as corrupt and heavily influence by external actors.

Updated: August 4, 2020 07:16 PM

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