The residents of Mosul are not surprised to see the city's streets being filled with posters representing the electoral candidates bidding for power in the upcoming national elections in Iraq.
The campaigns for the 2018 Iraqi elections, which are due to be held on 12th May, started last week as citizens in cities across Iraq began seeing their streets adorned with pictures of candidates from all of the electoral lists.
In Mosul, citizens were surprised to see advertisements days before the start date of the campaigns that said: ‘Surprise Very Soon!’ Some of citizens expressed their skepticism regarding these ‘surprise’ adverts across the city. “I don’t know what the surprise is. Will they build Khalifa Tower, for example?” said Faris, a young Moslawi man.
Others had a deeper insight regarding these adverts. Citizens claimed that the advertisements were only a ploy by candidates to reserve electricity poles, bridges and motorway barriers, which they had used in previous election campaigns, until it was legal to start posting the 2018 campaign adverts.
“There are no surprises,” said a Moslawi citizen. “There is an electoral competition. One of the candidates reserved a place to put his picture, no more and no less”.
Despite the liberation of the city from ISIS, many people in Mosul still lack basic services such as water and electricity. According to official Iraqi Government estimates, the restoration of Mosul will take up to 10 years and cost an estimated 30 billion dollars. One resident from the city expressed his annoyance at the current campaigning by saying, “We want them to work and we do not want see pictures, advertisement and surprises. What is this surprise?”
In Baghdad and other provinces, the citizens received an even bigger ‘surprise’. In the early hours of the April 11th start date, citizens woke up to find the pictures of Iraq’s fallen heroes, who had died fighting ISIS, either taken down or covered with the faces of candidates. This sparked anger throughout these cities leading many to tear down the advertisements of the candidates in order to re-show the images of the martyrs underneath.
Citizens claimed that the recent rain that the country received, which tore down some adverts with it, were a better surprise than the candidate’s campaigns. “There are no surprises other than the rain in the city of Mosul,” said Faris, the young Moslawi.