Iraq begins early preparation for October general elections

Iraq begins early preparation for October general elections
Iraq is now preparing for October's planned general elections to ensure the vote goes ahead smoothly without delays.
2 min read
21 June, 2021
Millions of Iraqis will vote in the October general elections [AFP/Getty Images]

Iraq's chief electoral body revealed Sunday that thousands of polling stations will be opened across the country for this year's anticipated parliamentary elections, scheduled for October.

The Independent High Electoral Commission spokeswoman Jumana Ghaly announced in an official statement that 8,273 polling stations had been certified, comprising of 55,041 voting booths.

The new electoral system in war-ravaged Iraq divides the country into 83 constituencies - including the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan - with more than 25 million eligible voters.

At least 235 parliamentary blocs and political parties are expected to compete for the 329-seats in parliament.

These include grassroots movements and newly found groups seeking to challenge the traditional parties and ruling classes that have governed Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion which toppled former dictator Saddam Hussein.

Iraq has witnessed nationwide protests since October 2019, when an uprising began against rampant corruption, mismanagement, poverty, and instability.

The Director of Media and Mass Communication at the Electoral Commission, Hassan Salman, suggested that "the names of the candidates for the elections will be approved this week".

He explained that the delay in this regard is because the new election law requires candidate names to be sent to relevant authorities for approval, but these have been late in responding.

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein arrived in Luxembourg Sunday at the invitation of his counterparts in the European Union, where he is expected to discuss the possibility of sending a technical team to Iraq to discuss election monitoring.

This was confirmed by the Iraqi foreign ministry, which said in a statement that a monitoring team to observe the elections would be "to provide the appropriate conditions to ensure that (election) results are (a reflection) of the true will of the Iraqi people".

Meanwhile, security meetings continued in Iraq which seek to set out a security plan to secure the voting process.

Sources told The New Arab’s sister site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that the army will protect polling stations during voting.

The early preparations for the legislative polls come in line with government directions to resolve issues related to security, in order to stop any attempts to postpone the vote under any pretext, the sources added.

Attacks against local and foreign security forces, as well as civilians, are frequent in Iraq.

While the Islamic State group was driven from regions it once controlled, small pockets of the extremists remain.

Many Iranian-backed militias are also active in the country.

Several activists have also been assassinated since 2019, blamed on Iran-linked militants.