Still recovering from three-years of ISIS occupation, the city of Mosul is preparing for the upcoming Iraqi national elections.
Still stricken and slowly recovering from conflict, the city of Mosul is preparing for the Iraqi general elections that are due to take place on May 12th. The elections are the first to take place since the emergence and subsequent defeat of ISIS in Iraq. Therefore, there are many hopes and fears riding on the outcome of the elections, with some wondering if it is a good time to have any elections at all.
In Mosul, the main source of concerns relate to the state of the city and its population. Having been fully liberated only less than a year ago, much of West Mosul, in particular, is still carrying the scars of the conflict. Although more and more people are returning to the city, a great chunk of the population remains displaced and homeless. With as many as 2500 Moslawis still missing, there is also fear that a rushed election can lead to skewed or distorted results.
For others, however, elections represent the only way to truly ensure that Mosul will get the reconstruction it needs. Although the Iraqi Government gained much-needed legitimacy in its efforts to liberate the city from ISIS, there are bubbling frustrations over what has been perceived as a lack of attention to the needs of the city even as other cities such as Tal Afar have been rebuilt relatively swiftly. Of course, it helps that Tal Afar did not suffer nearly as much damage as Mosul, but for many people here, the situation is emblematic of the government’s tendency to offer nothing but slogans. They hope that an election will bring in new faces that can help the city on the path to recovery.
Indeed, reconstruction and anti-corruption seem to be the running themes of this election, as is non-sectarianism. Many Iraqis across the political spectrum feel that the sectarian politics have provided ISIS with an environment to grow in. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was widely criticised when reports emerged that he had sought a coalition with a number of controversial political figures from the Popular Mobilisation Units. Furthermore, with many Shia parties also competing against each other, this has motivated many blocs to form cross-confessional coalitions. Controversial Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has entered into an unlikely alliance with the Iraqi Communist Party, running on a platform of anti-corruption and non-sectarianism.
For the people of Mosul, their main hopes out of the election is that it can help put their city on the path to recovery and, more importantly, prevent their city from beset by conflict once again.