Fifteen years after US President George W. Bush gave his “Mission Accomplished” address, Iraq continues its struggle for democracy. Regrettably, key institutions like its Independent High Electoral Commission have proven inefficient in laying the foundations for a thriving democracy. What is worst, they are failing to learn from their own recent experiences. In May 2018, Iraq headed to the polls for its first election in the post-ISIS era. What initially appeared to be a relatively decent election gradually emerged to have involved massive potential fraud, forcing a manual recount of the results of a failed electronic voting system. These botched elections cast into serious doubt Iraq’s ability to strengthen its own democratic institutions and conduct future election processes. The tragic episode of the 2018 elections could have had a positive spin, had authorities learned the lesson. However, the fact that they are mulling over the idea of using the same unreliable technology, is a sad testament to the struggle facing Iraq’s fragile, corrupt and inefficient institutions.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Iraq.
Following statements by the winning parties of the Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary elections welcoming the final results, trailing parties on Sunday rejected the outcome of the vote. At midnight on Saturday, the electoral commission announced the official results of the regional parliamentary election. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) lead the polls by a large margin, securing 45 seats out of a total 111 seats available, followed by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) with 21 seats. The parties who rejected the results are the Change Movement (Gorran), winner of 12 seats, New Generation, which won eight seats, and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), which belonged to the Toward Reform Coalition that won five.
Iraqis named a president and a prime minister designate Tuesday, capping five months of halting negotiations that played out amid widening popular unrest and an intensifying rivalry between the United States and Iran for influence over Iraq’s leadership. Within an hour of Iraq’s parliament electing veteran Kurdish politician Barham Salih as president, he announced that he had asked former oil minister Adel Abdul Mahdi to form the next government. The selection of the men showed how the sectarian loyalties in Iraq’s Kurdish, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab communities that have prevailed since the U.S. invasion in 2003 are breaking down, giving way to more-pragmatic coalitions that cut across sectarian lines.
The two major political parties in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region are crying fraud after Sunday’s parliamentary election, with one saying it will refuse to accept the results. Nearly 800 candidates were vying for 111 seats. Turnout is reported to have been modest even as Iraqi Kurds try to reassert their autonomy after a crackdown from Baghdad. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the major political parties, tells VOA it will not accept the results of Sunday’s vote. PUK spokesman Saadi Ahmed Pira charges the party’s chief political rival, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), of election fraud in two provinces under KDP control. Pira did not give specifics but said the PUK is demanding an investigation.
Iraqi Kurds voted on Sunday for a new parliament in their autonomous region, which is mired in an economic crisis a year after an independence referendum that infuriated Baghdad. Almost 3.1 million voters were eligible to cast ballots across three provinces in the northern region, where 673 candidates from 29 political movements contested seats in the 111-member parliament. Polling closed as scheduled at 1500 GMT and the results are expected within 72 hours. The vote passed off with only minor incidents such as gunmen trying to vote without the necessary papers. The electoral commission gave an official turnout of 58 percent of registered voters in Arbil, the regional capital and one of the three provinces which make up Iraqi Kurdistan.
A year after a failed bid for independence, Iraq’s Kurds will be voting again on Sunday, this time in a parliamentary election that could disrupt the delicate balance of power in their semi-autonomous region. With opposition parties weak, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are likely to extend their almost three decades of sharing power. But splits within the PUK present the possibility that Masoud Barzani’s KDP will take a dominant position in Kurdish politics, both in the regional capital Erbil and in the difficult formation of a federal government in Baghdad. The contentious referendum on independence in 2017, led by Barzani, promised to set Iraq’s Kurds on a path to a homeland.
Campaigning kicked off just after midnight on Tuesday in the Kurdistan Region parliament election campaign slated for September 30. Over 700 candidates are vying for spots in the 111-seat chamber where 11 seats are reserved for Turkmen and Christian minorities and 30 percent must be filled by women. The campaign had a hesitant start, delayed by a week amid reports that some parties wanted to postpone the vote that is already taking place 11 months late. Some candidates delayed creating campaign materials, fearing the process may be put off again. European allies told Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani they are “happy” the election is going ahead as scheduled.
Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, its spokesman said on Sunday, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government. Parliament in June ordered a nationwide manual recount of the results, which were tallied electronically, after a government report said there were widespread violations and blamed the electoral commission. Yet the recount showed little had changed from the initial results as populist Shi’ite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.
Iraq’s top election body said Thursday a manual recount of votes from the parliamentary election in May showed almost no difference from the initial tally, clearing the way for political parties to form a government. Fewer than a dozen members of parliament out of 329 lost their seats in the recount, according to Iraq’s electoral commission. The ballots were recounted after widespread allegations of fraud in the election in which populist anti-U.S. cleric Moqtada al-Sadr won a surprise victory. Those allegations paralyzed Iraq’s politics and increased popular anger, and the recount result is unlikely to restore confidence in the democratic process.
The United Nations on Monday hailed Iraq’s “credible” vote recount, which paves the way for a government to be formed nearly three months after polls. Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary elections were marred by allegations of fraud, prompting the country’s supreme court to order a partial manual recount. As an official announced the checks had concluded, the UN said it had observed the recount and found it to be “conducted in a manner that is credible, professional and transparent”. “We are very pleased that it’s been concluded and we look forward to the next steps in this process towards the formation of the new government,” said a statement by Alice Walpole, a UN envoy to Iraq.
Iraq: Election commission says election recount complete but cut short in capital over fire | Reuters
Iraq’s election commission said on Monday it had completed a manual recount of May’s parliamentary election but was forced to cut the process short in the capital because voting records had been destroyed by a warehouse fire two months ago. The recount was ordered by parliament in June after a government report concluded there were serious violations in an initial count using an electronic vote-counting system. However, within hours of parliament voting for the recount, a fire broke out at a warehouse where voting machines and other records from the capital were kept.
Iraq’s election commission ignored an anti-corruption body’s warnings about the credibility of electronic vote-counting machines used in May’s parliamentary election, according to investigators and a document seen by Reuters. The devices, provided by South Korean company Miru Systems under a deal with the Independent High Elections Commission (IHEC), are at the heart of fraud allegations that led to a manual recount in some areas after the May 12 election. The results of the recount have not yet been announced and political leaders are still trying to form a government. Concerns about the election count center on discrepancies in the tallying of votes by the voting machines, mainly in the Kurdish province of Sulaimaniya and the ethnically-mixed province of Kirkuk, and suggestions that the devices could have been tampered with or hacked into to skew the result.
Five election officials will be put on trial in Iraq in connection with fraud, including vote buying, during the country’s May legislative elections, a judicial official said on Saturday. The suspects were the heads of election offices in Salaheddin, Kirkuk and Anbar provinces as well as those who oversaw the voting in neighbouring Jordan and Turkey, Judge Laith Hamza said. All five have been sacked “and will appear before the courts” in connection with allegations of fraud, Hamza said. The decision to put them on trial has been taken following recommendations made by a ministerial committee, which issued a 28-page report after reviewing a series of complaints.
Iraqi authorities began recounting votes on Tuesday from May’s disputed parliamentary election, officials said, a step toward forming a new government after weeks of delays. Counting started in the ethnically mixed northern oil-producing province of Kirkuk, the election commission said, and at least six other provinces were expected to follow suit in coming days. Parliament ordered a full recount last month after a government report concluded there were widespread violations. As a result, political blocs began heated talks about the formation of the next government.
Iraqi authorities began recounting votes from May’s disputed parliamentary election on Tuesday, officials said, a step towards forming a new government after weeks of delays. Counting started in the northern oil-producing province of Kirkuk, a election commission source there said, and at least six other provinces were expected to follow suit in coming days. Parliament ordered a full recount earlier in June after a government report concluded there were widespread violations.
Iraq will begin a manual recount of votes on Tuesday from a May parliamentary election clouded by allegations of fraud, a step towards the formation of a new parliament and government. Only suspect ballots flagged in formal complaints or official reports on fraud will be recounted, a spokesman for the panel of judges conducting the recount said on Saturday. “The manual recount will be conducted in the presence of representatives from the United Nations, foreign embassies and political parties; as well as local and international observers, members of the media, and the Ministries of Defense and the Interior,” Judge Laith Jabr Hamza said in a statement.
Judges appointed by Iraq’s top court said Sunday they would limit a manual recount of votes in a May parliamentary poll to districts where results were contested, in a new twist to the country’s electoral saga. The recount, demanded by the supreme court, “concerns only polling centres where candidates filed complaints to the High Electoral Commission, or in cases of official reports of suspected fraud in Iraq or abroad,” the judges’ spokesman, Laith Hamza, said in a statement. The court ordered a recount on June 21, in line with a decision adopted by parliament in response to allegations of irregularities.
Iraq’s Supreme Court on Thursday endorsed a manual recount of all ballots from last month’s national elections, but rejected the invalidation of ballots from abroad and from voters displaced by recent conflict. Authorities have been struggling to address allegations raised by underperforming parties that the May vote was marred by fraud. The court ruling concerned a law passed by parliament that mandated a full, manual recount of the vote, and ordered other measures that President Fuad Masum and the national elections commission described as political interference. Two-thirds of parliament’s current members lost their seats in the May polls, or did not stand for re-election. A warehouse storing ballots from eastern Baghdad was burned down days after the parliament filed the legislation. Outgoing parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri called it arson and said the fire was set to cover up fraud.
Iraq’s top court upheld on Thursday a law mandating a nationwide recount of votes in a May parliamentary election but ruled that the cancellation of overseas, displaced, and Peshmerga ballots was unconstitutional. Iraq, OPEC’s second largest oil producer, faces political uncertainty after the election, which was marred by a historically low turnout and allegations of fraud. Parliament, which had mandated the recount after a government report found serious violations had taken place, had also canceled some results such as overseas and displaced votes by amending the election law this month. The verdict from the Supreme Federal Court confirms the recount process, which was opposed by the elections commission and some parties who made significant gains in the election.
Iraq’s Federal Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a request by the country’s election commission to invalidate legislative amendments under which electronic vote count has been abolished. Last week, the Iraqi parliament amended the election law to adopt only the manual count of votes in the May 12 parliamentary election. The court “unanimously decided to reject the request to stop executing provisions of the third amendment to the election law,” Iyas al-Samouk, a spokesman for the court, said in a statement.