Dozens of Iraqi parliamentary hopefuls to withdraw candidacy

Dozens of parliamentary hopefuls to withdraw candidacy from Iraq polls
2 min read
24 June, 2021
Iraq’s electoral commission said it was not concerned if decisions not to run were a personal choice or the result of pressure, only that they matched certain "criteria".
Armed groups have been accused of threatening candidates from activist ranks to drop out of the October 10 polls [Getty]

At least 100 hopefuls for Iraq's early parliamentary elections are set to withdraw their candidacy, the country's electoral commission has said.

The Iraqi Independent High Electoral commission received withdrawal requests, spokesman Hasan Salman said, adding that while some of the requests will be rejected, around 100 will be approved, Iraq's official Al Sabaah newspaper reported.

The early polls come in response to calls by Iraq's anti-government protest movement, whose demonstrations against widespread poverty and endemic corruption erupted across the country in 2019.

Hundreds of protesters were gunned down by Iran-aligned paramilitary groups, which are linked to Iraq's biggest parties.  The same armed groups are thought to be behind a spate of killings of pro-reform activists, and have been accused of threatening candidates from activist ranks to drop out of the October 10 race.

It is not clear if the latest withdrawal is linked to such pressure.

Iraq's electoral commission said it was not concerned if decisions not to run were a personal choice or the result of pressure, only that they matched certain "criteria", without elaborating.

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Hisham al-Mosany, an activist who co-founded a new political party, told Reuters that the deployment of rival militias in Baghdad this year discouraged his party from running in elections.

"There's no law and order in Baghdad, no (strong) security apparatus…the state is dying," he said. No one has been prosecuted for killings of protesters which took place in 2019.

Despite a new election law passed that year which theoretically favour independent candidates, few are standing.

Analysts believe that pro-Iran parties entrenched in the country’s political system will boost their mandate in the polls.   

Separately, hundreds of candidates have had their candidacy withdrawn amid ongoing court cases or as a result of their previous ties to the country’s outlawed Bath party.

In a statement on Sunday, the electoral commission announced that it approved thousands of polling centres across the country. According to initial figures, 3,523-candidates have registered to participate in the elections, including 963 women.