Politics & Economics

Iraq: Elections pass without major security incidents

Iraq

Onlookers congratulate the security forces for conducting the Iraqi elections with no major security issues

On Saturday, people across Iraq took to the polls to vote in the country’s fifth parliamentary elections. While the voting turnout was only 45%, according to the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the elections occurred without any major security incidents or lapses.

After the fall of the so-called Islamic State and the threats made by ISIS spokesman, Abu Hassan al-Muhajjer, to target candidates and voters alike, onlookers congratulated the security forces for maintaining security in the elections. In large part, no major security issues took place, with only sporadic clashes taking place between antagonistic groups predominately in Sulaymaniyah and Najaf.

In Kirkuk, often a site of recent contestation, security remained tight, with no serious clashes taking place. However, some electoral violations were reported, with the head of the Turkmen Front, Arshad al-Salihi, claiming that there were “no observers monitoring the vote in the Kurdish populated areas…allowing people to go in and vote”.

Al-Salihi also stated that the voting process in Arab and Turkmen areas had been delayed for four hours due to technical problems with the voting machines. As a result of this, the IHEC decided to carry out a manual recount of the votes in Kirkuk. As of Wednesday afternoon, Kirkuk is the last province to be revealed following the elections.

The results, which came out slowly over Sunday and into Monday, highlighted a victory for the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and his Sa’iroun Alliance, which along with his own party, Istiqama, contains the Iraqi Communist Party and a number of other smaller parties.

Over the past few years, Sadr has positioned himself as an Iraqi nationalist and reformer, a far cry from his actions in the post-2003 climate. Despite Sadr’s victory, however, his political bloc has not managed to achieve a majority of votes. As a result of this, his alliance will have to form a coalition with other political blocs.

In a recent statement following the results, Sadr has said he is willing to work with almost all of Iraq’s parties to form a government, although he discounted the Fatah Coalition and the State of Law Coalition for their perceived links to Iran.