Iraqi militias and PM Abadi to contest general election separately

Iraqi militias and PM Abadi to contest general election separately
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said the controversial Hashd al-Shaabi militia force will stand separately in next May's planned general elections.
2 min read
15 January, 2018
Abadi has led Iraq during the fightback against IS [Getty]

Leaders of Iraq's controversial militia force and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi will stand separately in an upcoming general election, a source has told AFP.

It comes just a day after the premier announced he would run together with the Hashd al-Shaabi candidates against rival Vice-President Nouri al-Maliki in voting slated for 12 May.

The alliance between the two sides was announced on Sunday, but appears to have falled apart over the past 24-hours.

The alliance was to be named the Victory Alliance, which would see Hashd al-Shaabi candidates and Abadi's supporters fight for seats against Maliki's State of Law bloc.

Although the Shia-heavy Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary force promised to field a "cross-sectarian" list for parliament, they disagreed on conditions put forward by the premier, AFP reported. 

"The removal from the list of certain groups (led by the Hashd) is due to the fact that they could not comply with the conditions that the prime minister had sought," the source said.

"Their conditions diverge from those of Haider al-Abadi, who on one hand wants people qualified for their positions and not chosen according to denominational criteria, and on the other hand candidates who support his anti-corruption measures."

"Mr Abadi wants to choose nationalists who share his national vision in accordance with the wishes of Iraqis," the source added.

The announcement of the Abadi and Hashd al-Shaabi political alliance shocked many in Iraq, after the prime minister said that militia fighters would have to lay down their arms if they were to enter politics.

The paramilitary force played a crucial role in Abadi's fight back against the Islamic State group over the past two years and appear ready to transfer their successes on the battlefield to the ballot boxes.

They remain popular with certain sections of Iraqi society but have been accused of human rights abuses and sectarianism by many independent monitors.

Some of the militias were heavily involved in the sectarian civil war between Shia and Sunnis forces - leading to hundreds of thousands dead - after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

The groups are also believed to have close ties with Iran who have are said to wield huge influence in Iraqi politics.

Agencies contributed to this story.