Iraq is plagued with new wave of protests following the recent election. Protesters denounce the election fraud perpetrated by foreign troops to consolidate their presence in Iraq.
In Iraq, the election process still seems to be underway 10 days after the election day. The results were faced challenge by major parties who consider the American intervention an effective factor in the outcome.
Thousands of followers of Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU) — an strong paramilitary group – demonstrated against election fraud in recent elections. The PMU and similar groups believe the electronic counting went through secret manipulation.
According to early data, the Fatah Coalition, the political wing of the PMU, gained around 15 seats in the recent elections. The number shows less than one-third of the seats the group secured in the former election.
Thousands of PMU supporters congregated in Baghdad heading for US embassy, signaling their belief about American role in the outcome. The election fraud, according to the PM, is under investigation. Recent political conduct by the administration further reinforced the uncertainty in the results.
The protestors yelled anti-American chants and denounced the calls for normalization of relations with Israel. “No to fraud, no to America,” people chanted in Tuesday protests in Baghdad. All American soldiers must leave the nation, according to the PMU. The protesters also criticized UN authorities who were in charge of overseeing the elections and preventing election fraud.
Along with PMU, some other independent group called for an all-out clear investigation to the October 10 elections. The pre-election polls indicated a much different results compared with the early election outcome.
Muqtada al-Sadr‘s victory TV speech further fueled the tension in the country and intensified election fraud calls. Sadr emphasized on disarmament of local groups rather than focusing on removing foreign armed troops in the country.
Election Fraud in Iraq
Votes are the main means of a peaceful transition of power in modern times. Sometimes, however, they prove to be a gate to the intensification of hostilities and crisis. For democracies on their way to being, the condition is still tougher.
The Shiite majority of Iraq was split into two groups after last Sunday vote. Sadrists, followers of the renowned Shiite cleric who is prominent among lower brows, won the battle with the highest, but not major, seats in the parliament. They secured more than 70 seats, out of 329 in October 10 elections. Sadr movement succeeded in increasing its seats by more than 30%.
Nuri al-Maliki, his closest Shiite competitor, received roughly half number of seats. Former Iraqi prime minister gathered an ally of Shiite groupings and militias loyal to Iran within hours, surpassing Mr. Sadr’s total. Both individuals claim to be in possession of a mandate to create the next administration.
The outcome relies much on Kurdish groups. KDP appears to have 32 of the 63 seats gained by Kurdish groups, indicating that it will most likely play the role of kingmaker. Sunni groups, who had previously been split, united around al-Halbousi, giving his party 38 seats. The Iraqi current parliament speaker leads Taqaddum Party.
In semi-fledged democracies like Iraq, elections are generally a prerequisite to an era of fighting among the major political parties the true and legal winners. Major blocs threatened to start the fight with each other even after the votes. Sadr’s volatile approach regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops has further reinforced the election fraud theory in the past weeks.
The foreign military and non-military intervention in local affairs of Iraq still seems to be the source of division. To secure political and social advancements, withdrawal seems the preliminary step.