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Iraq: Parliament fails to agree on election date

January 19, 2018 at 10:24 am

The Iraqi parliament has failed to set a new date for the upcoming legislative elections, Iraqi media sources reported yesterday.

Media sources quoted Members of the Parliament (MPs) as saying that yesterday’s session was devoted to a secret ballot on holding the elections on either 12 May, the date that was announced by the Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, or in early December 2018.

During the session, Kurds and Shiites MPs both stressed the importance of holding elections on time, while Sunnis argued that it should be delayed.

Of the 260 MPs in attendance, 149 suggested a secret vote on the matter, but Shiite MPs objected, arguing it was illegal.

Parliament speaker Salim Al-Jabouri, a Sunni, decided at the end of yesterday’s session to postpone the voting session to next Saturday, after the “secret voting to delay the elections failed.”

In response, the United States said it strongly supports holding the Iraqi elections on the scheduled date of 12 May, warning that postponing it would set a “dangerous precedent.”

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“The US government strongly supports holding the Iraqi national elections in May 2018 in line with the Iraqi constitution,” a statement by the US Embassy in Baghdad read.

“Postponing the elections would set a dangerous precedent, undermining the constitution and damaging Iraq’s long-term democratic development,” the embassy warned.

The statement pointed out that the US is helping Iraq to “ensure that all Iraqi voices are heard and counted, including the approximately 2.6 million Iraqis who remain displaced from their homes in the liberated areas.”

“A US agency for international development will train local observers for the elections and supply the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq with six international advisors that specialize in elections,” the US government noted.