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Iraq sources: draft road map to resolve crisis including early elections

November 18, 2019 at 4:07 am

Iraqi demonstrators gather at Khilani Square and Sanak Bridge, near Tahrir Square of Baghdad, as anti-government protests continue in Baghdad, Iraq on 17 November, 2019 [Murtadha Sudani/Anadolu Agency]

High-level Iraqi sources in Baghdad revealed on Sunday to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed the holding of a closed meeting, the second of its kind in less than two days, on Saturday night in the Green Zone in Baghdad, with the presence of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and several acting political leaders in the country. The meeting discussed the project of the official announcement of early elections in Iraq, on condition of voting on new election law and the formation of an election commission.

A senior Iraqi official told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that continued demonstrations may precipitate the adoption of a narrowly discussed project among leaders of several political blocs on Saturday evening. This would nullify the previous agreement sponsored by Qasem Soleimani. The project revolves around the announcement of early elections in the country not later than one year after the vote on the new election law and the formation of a new election commission. “This may be very suitable for the public in general and Najaf specifically that is supporting the protesters,” said the official referring to the Najaf reference represented by Ali Sistani.

Yonadam Kanna, head of Al-Rafidain Christian bloc in the Iraqi parliament, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “several meetings in the previous days, the most recent of which was held Saturday night in the Green Zone between first-row leaders to discuss the file of demonstrations. There was a consensus on the legitimacy of demonstrations, the civil rights to demonstrate and the need for change and prompt solutions.”

“A roadmap has been agreed upon to meet the demands of the demonstrators regarding the reform of the political regime’s situation through early elections after the adoption of a new election law, the formation of a new electoral commission, in addition to the parties’ law,” Kanna explained, adding that “it was agreed to implement some of the immediate demands, including the prosecution of corrupt people and the combating of corruption. This is the responsibility of the executive, legislative and the judiciary authorities, and there is coordination between the three of them.”

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The head of Al-Rafidain Christian bloc also revealed that “no specific date has so far been decided for the holding of the early elections, as this depends on the implementation of some legislative and executive procedures, on top of which is the electoral law and the formation of the new electoral commission.” The Iraqi MP concluded: “There is almost unanimity in holding early elections as soon as possible to get the country out of the crisis. However, the timing depends on completing the legislative and executive procedures to hold those elections.”

In the same context, MP Mohamed Al-Khalidi, head of Bayariq Al-Khair bloc, said in a telephone conversation with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “there is almost an agreement or consensus that the solutions to get out of the current crisis include the holding of early elections according to a new electoral law and a new electoral commission.”

“The other solution put forward in the meetings of the blocs and political parties is bringing a new Prime Minister who would be accepted by the Iraqi people in general and the demonstrators in particular. The new Prime Minister would be tasked to form a new cabinet including independent and competent persons, implement real and fundamental reforms and strike corruption and corrupt people. If he succeeds in the implementation of these tasks, he will complete his term, and normal parliamentary elections will be held in time. In contrast, if the new Prime Minister fails in meeting the people’s demands, the issue of early elections will be put forward, which also needs a long time. We expect the closest implementable solution to calm the public is the changing of the Prime Minister and accelerating reforms while working on early elections at the same time.”

On the other hand, Iraqi political analyst Mohammed Al-Tamimi explained to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that “the political forces are in a real dilemma, which they cannot overcome only through the implementation of the demonstrators’ demands, even if this goes against their interests.”

“The pressure of the international community, the Najaf reference, as well as the public’s anger, but the political forces in a narrow circle which they cannot evade only through meeting the people’s demands. Therefore, these forces want to implement one of the main demands, such as the holding of early elections with a new electoral law and a new electoral commission,” indicated Al-Tamimi.

He added that “even if the Iraqi government and political forces do not implement the aforementioned, demonstrators and protesters will not return to their homes without setting a prompt date. Also, we believe that the demonstrators’ withdrawal from the street will be days before the date of the elections as they are even preventing any banners and media advertising movements of the prevailing parties.”