Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr calls for provincial elections boycott
Iraqi Shia cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr called on his supporters to boycott local elections scheduled next month, a move analysts expect will cause a low voter turnout.
Iraq will hold provincial elections on 18 December 2023, the first local elections to take place in more than a decade. The elected provincial councils are responsible for selecting the governor and the governorate’s executive officials.
In a statement released on Monday, Sadr said he would be "saddened" if his supporters participated in the elections with the "corrupt" and would be content if they boycotted the polls.
He claimed that a boycott would weaken the elections' legitimacy both internally and internationally.
"The global and regional situation is affecting the situation in Iraq... and with it we must be constantly vigilant and prepared, as the enemy is lurking in our Iraq and our sanctities, so please be careful," Sadr continued in his statement.
Political analyst Ahmed al-Sharifi told The New Arab’s Arabic-language sister site Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the boycott would have a significant impact on the elections and the voter turnout, which would negatively affect how legitimate the vote is seen to be by the international community.
Al-Sharifi said Sadr’s calls for a boycott could lead other political leaders to shun the elections too.
Sadr announced he was exiting political life in conflict-scarred Iraq in August last year, after a long summer of violent demonstrations and a sit-in by his supporters at the parliament building.