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Iraq’s Communist Party pulls out of election race

Iraq’s Communist Party announced on Saturday that it is withdrawing from the election race, saying that a free and fair vote is not possible given the country’s “political crisis.”

“In the absence of conditions for free and fair elections, participation in them would only mean collusion in reproducing the same corrupt political system that is responsible for the catastrophic state of affairs in the country,” the party said in a statement, pointing to government failures to rein in militias and claiming that electoral fraud has already begun with politicians and parties buying votes.

Iraqis will go to the polls on October 10, a year ahead of schedule. The early vote was set in order to meet demands from protesters who forced the former prime minister’s resignation in 2019. Current Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi pledged to combat corruption and hold to account those who perpetrated violence against the protesters, but has made little progress fulfilling his promises.

In the 2018 election, the Communist Party allied with Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sairoon alliance, which secured 54 seats, becoming the largest bloc in the parliament. Sadr last week announced his party too was withdrawing from the election race and he pulled his support for the current and upcoming governments.

Some protesters have also called for a boycott of the elections and Iraq’s Christian voters will not participate because of concerns over possible fraud.

The Communist Party said it was in discussions with protest and civil groups to form a unified front of “civil democratic forces on a platform of struggle for change,” including ending Iraq’s current sectarian-based political system.

Iraq’s political parties are largely divided by ethnicity or sect, and positions are divvied up on the same basis.