Iraq election may be postponed if Sadr boycott continues

Iraq general election could be postponed if Sadr continues boycott
2 min read
20 July, 2021
Early elections in Iraq planned for October could be delayed if a powerful Shia group and other parties continue to boycott the polls.
Shia cleric Sadr decided to boycott the elections and not support the government [Getty Images]

Iraq's early parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, may be delayed if opposition parties boycott the poll, according to leading political figures.

Iraq’s powerful Shia Sadrist Movement, led by religious cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, as well as other parties and grassroots movements which emerged from the 2019 anti-government uprising, have all decided to snub the general election, planned for 10 October.

Sadr announced last week he will not participate in the process and withdrew his support for the government amid a wave of hospital fires and other acts of perceived corruption and ineptitude by Iraqi authorities.

Muhammad Al-Khalidi, the head of the Bayariq Al-Khair parliamentary bloc, claimed on Tuesday that most political leaders do not want the October elections to go ahead.

Speaking to a local news agency, Al-Khalidi stated there were problems with holding the elections on time as Sadr’s decision to boycott was "not arbitrary".

He believes a boycott by the Sadrist Movement and other anti-government parties could mean the participation rate in the election would not exceed 10 percent.

The MP said we will know next month if the elections will be held in October or postponed until April 2022.

He said: "Postponing the elections is better than holding them incomplete and when the participants are not convinced."

Ahmed Haqqi of the Iraqi Civil Movement told The New Arab’s sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that security concerns might be another factor for delaying the election. 

"The government has not yet provided any reassurances with regards to the constituencies in which armed militias are deployed and have control, who also have political wings participating in the elections," he said.

There have been no reassurances either for "securing the safety of voters themselves and ensuring the integrity of the elections and not affecting voters' (decisions)", he added.

At least 35 people were killed and dozens wounded when a suicide bomber targeted a crowded market in Sadr City, a Shia neighbourhood in Baghdad, on Monday.

It was claimed by the Islamic State group, which remains active in Iraq despite losing the territories it once controlled.

Other parts of Iraq remain under the effective control of Shia militias which also have political wings.