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Iraqi party leader slams judicial interference in polls

Ammar al-Hakim criticises role of Iraq's judiciary in ongoing dispute over May 12 poll results
An Iraqi woman casts her vote at a polling station for the Iraqi parliamentary election in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on May 12, 2018 [Feriq Fereç / Anadolu Agency]
An Iraqi woman casts her vote at a polling station for the Iraqi parliamentary election in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq on 12 May 2018 [Feriq Fereç / Anadolu Agency]

Ammar al-Hakim, head of Iraq’s National Wisdom movement, has criticised the Iraqi judiciary for taking over the responsibilities of the country’s official electoral commission amid an ongoing dispute over results of May 12 parliamentary polls.

Addressing supporters in Baghdad, al-Hakim, a prominent Shia cleric, warned that “the insertion of the judiciary into the electoral process, removing it from its strictly supervisory role and assigning it with an executive role, risks jeopardising its independence”.

He went on to assert that the recent amendment of the country’s electoral laws was of “questionable constitutionality” and had served to “aggravate the current political crisis instead of resolving it”.

Early this month, parliament voted in favor of amending elections-related legislation. The assembly also called for a manual recount of May 12 parliamentary poll results.

Shortly afterward, a panel of judges was appointed to assume the responsibilities of the electoral commission, leading members of which were dismissed amid allegations of electoral fraud.

For weeks, the results of Iraq’s May 12 election have been dogged by dispute and controversy.

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Late last month, lawmakers began issuing calls for a manual vote recount. Electoral commission officials had responded by warning of “potential civil unrest” if the poll results were overturned.

Muqtada al-Sadr, another influential Iraqi politician and Shia cleric, has said that parliament lacks the authority to overturn final election results.

Al-Sadr’s Sairoon coalition dominated the May 12 poll, winning 54 parliamentary seats, according to official results.

The Sairoon coalition was followed by a Hashd al-Shaabi-linked coalition (47 seats) and Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Victory bloc (42 seats).

Al-Hakim’s National Wisdom Movement, for its part, clinched 19 seats in the legislative assembly.

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