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Iraq election commission asks for new electoral law, budget before early vote

Iraq’s election commission announced on Saturday they are ready for early elections as long as certain demands are met, including passing a new electoral law and allocating a budget for the vote.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in a televised statement Friday evening that Iraqis will go to polls on June 6 next year.

“To hold a free and fair election, devoid of rigging, under the auspices of the United Nations and international organizations, international observers and relevant Iraqi organizations, on the date announced by the prime minister, the Independent High Electoral Commission announces it is ready,” read a statement from the commission.

In order to begin preparations, it asks that the parliament “implement the election law as soon as possible and publish it in the official gazette, as it represents the legal framework for the election process.”

A draft electoral law that could redraw the political map is in parliament now.

Iraq’s electoral system, built after the US invasion of 2003, divides the country into its ethnic components, divvying up power among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. One demand of protesters in late 2019 was to throw out the old political battle lines and create a technocratic government that serves all Iraqis.

The election commission also asked the parliament to fill empty seats at the Federal Supreme Court, “which is the only body legally empowered to endorse the election results.”

Finally, the elections body called on “the United Nations and other relevant international organizations to provide electoral assistance, and provide the oversight necessary to achieve free, transparent and fair elections that represent the true will of the Iraqi people.”

“The Independent High Electoral Commission announces its full commitment, after implementing the above-mentioned conditions, to work to fulfill its constitutional mission,” it concluded.

The electoral commission was overhauled after complaints about how it handled allegations of fraud in the 2018 parliamentary vote. The new commission faces a number of legal, financial, and contractual problems, including a legal vacuum while the parliament considers new legislation, political commentator Farhad Alaaldin explained in a column last month.

Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi called for elections to be held even earlier to pay respect to “the sacrifices of Iraqis.” He did not suggest an alternative date.

The last parliamentary election was held on May 12, 2018. Source