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Iraq confirms Muqtada al-Sadr’s electoral gains

 |  Today Headlines

Iraq confirms Muqtada al-Sadr’s electoral gains

| News Today | Today Headlines

The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court on Monday upheld the results of the country’s October parliamentary elections, resolving a dispute that had blocked the formation of a new government as Iran-backed Shia Muslim militias contested the gains of a rival Shiite political bloc.

The court certified the victory of Muqtada al-Sadr, the influential Shia cleric who is seen as a possible, albeit suspicious, ally of the United States in Iraq. His party won 73 of 329 seats in parliament, more than any other and down from 54 in 2018. It easily defeated an alliance of Iran-aligned militias led by the Fatah coalition.

For Fatah and its allies, Mr. al-Sadr’s victory upset the traditional balance of Shiite power that has dominated Iraqi politics since the fall of Saddam Hussein almost 20 years ago and threatened to undermine influence. Iranian in Parliament. Mr al-Sadr – an Iraqi nationalist whose forces once fought the Americans but who is now seen as more hostile to Iran – is poised to play an important role not only in parliament but also in choosing the next one Prime Minister.

Fatah filed a lawsuit challenging the results and alleging electoral fraud after winning 17 seats, just over a third of its previous total. But on Monday, he accepted the court ruling.

“We respect the Federal Court ruling despite our deep and firm belief that the electoral process was marred by a lot of fraud and manipulation,” said Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of Fatah, citing “concerns for security and Iraq policy. stability and our faith in the political process and its democratic path.

Tension had clouded the legal process, delaying the announcement of the ruling, which was originally expected earlier this month. The dispute had raised the possibility that Fatah and its allies would unleash violence to force the outcome they wanted, and militiamen rallied in court on Monday morning ahead of the ruling, chanting against the current prime minister, Mustafa al- Kadhimi.

But they withdrew in the early afternoon, and there were no reports of violence.

Mr al-Kadhimi survived a drone strike on his home early last month after Iraqi security forces clashed with militia members protesting election results outside the green zone , where the American Embassy is located. A deputy commander of an Iranian-backed militia was killed.

In a speech to the losing political parties on November 18, al-Sadr warned them of the “ruin of the democratic process in Iraq” and called on them to dissolve their militias and hand over their weapons to the national army. Iraqi. .

With his huge, popular following and powerful militia, which he deployed to trap US forces in brutal street fighting in the mid-2000s, Mr. al-Sadr was once such an adversary of the Americans in Iraq that the US United ordered his death. He then decided not to.

But Mr. al-Sadr came to oppose Iranian interference in Iraq, and he signaled in a speech after the elections that foreign embassies were welcome as long as they did not interfere in the affairs of the country. Iraq.

Now that the election results have been certified, factions representing Iraq’s Kurdish and Sunni minorities, who were waiting for the outcome to negotiate or form alliances that could be part of the new government, can dive into the fray. A majority of Iraqis are Shiites.

Political analysts said they believe the Sadrists won big by taking advantage in part of a new electoral law that limited the traditional power of big parties and made room for new faces by increasing the number of electoral districts. The Sadrist organization studied the electoral map closely, making sure to present candidates who would not end up competing with each other.

But they weren’t the only beneficiaries: Independent candidates from the Iraqi anti-government protest movement, which flooded the streets in late 2019 as Iraqis rallied against their deeply corrupt and sectarian political system, also won a handful of seats. .

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, the United Nations envoy to Iraq, described the legislative elections as “generally peaceful” and well run.

“Elections and their results can provoke strong feelings,” she said. “If such feelings and debates give way to undemocratic impulses – such as disinformation, baseless accusations, intimidation, threats of violence or worse – then sooner or later the door is open to simply action. intolerable.

Despite this assertion, the elections, the fifth since Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003, recorded a record turnout of 41%, reflecting intense Iraqi frustration with their leaders.

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