In Rudaw 

Elections will be held on time: PM Kadhimi

Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Saturday issued a statement reaffirming that upcoming parliamentary elections would be held on time, claiming that people were trying to fabricate problems.

“We are committed to enforcing our govt [government] program, in spite of those manufacturing crises,” the prime minister tweeted on Saturday, saying whoever “seeks to spread negativity to destroy Iraqis’ hopes for a better future won’t succeed.”

He added that “elections will be held on time, God willing. We will not backtrack on our state-building program.”

His statement comes after a military parade on the streets of Baghdad was held by an Iraqi Shiite militia called Rab’Allah on Thursday with heavy weaponry and threats directed at political parties and personnel, including at PM Kadhimi. The militia members held posters of the PM with a shoe print on his forehead, captioned “It’s time to cut off your ears”.

Kurdish MP in Iraqi parliament for Hope Coalition Ahmad Haji Rashid on March 9 cast doubt on parliamentary elections being held on time. “So far it is uncertain if elections will be held on time,” he told Rudaw English, adding that “there are claims that the election could be delayed to 2022.”

Badr al-Ziyadi, Deputy Head of the Sairoon Alliance and member of the parliamentary security and defense committee, told Iraqi state media on Saturday that “political forces seek to amend the election law for the purpose of postponement.”

“Some political forces do not want elections to take place on time,” he added.

Regarding the Independent High Electoral Commission’s (IHEC) “surprising” decision not to register overseas voters, preventing a million Iraqis living abroad from voting, the MP said is “considered a constitutional violation” and was not decided with discussion.

Iraq had initially planned to hold early elections on June 6. However, in January, Iraq’s Council of Ministers decided to postpone elections to October 10.

Early elections were one of the demands made at protests that began in October 2019 across central and southern Iraq. Kadhimi asked the IHEC in November to take “all necessary measures” to ensure the elections will be held as scheduled, and should “continuously work to guarantee a successful election.”

The postponement of elections from June 6 to October 10 “is not a deviation from the principle of an early election, for it will happen in any case, and we have not compromised on early elections for it is popular demand supported by the Marja and it is part of the government’s program,” Kadhimi said at the time of the postponement, referring to Iraq’s highest Shiite authority.