Iraqi government spokesman outlines changes in new draft election law

Spokesman of Iraqi Government Saad al-Hadithi (File)

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SULAIMANI — An Iraqi government spokesman has discussed some of the “most important points” of a new election law, which was approved by the Council of Ministers and sent to the Council of Representatives on November 13.

During an interview with al-Sumaria published on Sunday (November 17), Saad al-Hadithi said that the number of parliamentary seats would be reduced by a third to 251, but would include five seats for Christians, one for Sabians, one for Shabaks, one for Ezidis, and one more for Faili Kurds.

The Independent High Electoral Commission will use electronic devices for the elections, he continued, but that votes would be counted by hand if there were complaints about fraud.

“Receiving finger prints from private and general voters is also part of the law,” he added. By private voters, Hadithi was referring to those who vote early in the election, such as members of the military and police, who must be on duty during the general vote.

The election cards will be taken from the private voters to prevent them from voting again in the general election, Hadithi noted.

Another change is that any political grouping that wins seats during the election will not be able to transfer its list or create a coalition until after the formation of a government.

Hadithi further said officials who are currently in the positions of president, vice presidents, prime minister, deputy prime ministers, ministers, deputy ministers, heads and members of commissions, advisers, governors, deputy governors, heads and members of provincial councils, special ranks, general-directors, judges, members of public prosecutors and members of electoral commissions would not be able to be a candidate themselves in the next election.

The announcement of changes to the election law came as anti-government protests continue across Iraq. More than 300 people have been killed during weeks of mass unrest in Baghdad and southern Iraq.

Iraq’s top Shia cleric, who intervenes in politics only at times of crisis, openly backed the protests in his Friday sermon and said he doubted the elites would deliver reform, Reuters reported.

“If those who wield power think they can escape enacting real reforms by stalling, they are delusional. What comes after these protests will not be like what followed earlier ones, so they better pay attention,” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said in a sermon read out by his representative.

(NRT Digital Media)