The move is seen as hindering the formation of an already unstable Iraqi government, but the Prime Minister hopes it will restore public confidence in the government.
Iraqi PM Haidar Al-Abadi, 2015. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Foreign and Commonwealth Office Flickr
Last week, Iraq’s Parliament began debating measures to address concerns over voter fraud in northern regions of the country. After voters went to the ballot, results indicated that Iraq’s Muqtada Al-Sadr’s bloc, a predominantly Shi’ite coalition opposed to both Iran and the United States, had won the most seats in the new Parliament. Since then, various political actors have demanded that Iraq issue a recount for provinces like Nineveh to ensure that the votes of largely Sunni provinces were properly included.
Concerns regarding vote tampering have been raised by multiple sides, both within the first election and the ongoing recount effort. Al Sadr’s bloc has raised concerns about government interference in Iraq’s independent elections commission, and the recount complicates the process for forming a new Iraqi government. The Parliament, along with enforcing a recount the Elections Commission has already declined, chose to also replace the commission’s leadership with nine senior judges. For the time being, Iraq’s Parliament has indefinitely ruled out the use of electronic voting machines.
Moving forward, Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi has asked for transitional talks to continue. The electronic machines had originally been implemented by his cabinet to ensure confidence in the elections process, but have now become the target of criticism from a broad range of political factions. Members of the Elections Commission now risk further investigation by the Iraqi government.