Iraq: Politicians Decide on Electoral Alliances
It was a long night for most Iraqi officials as they engaged on Wednesday in lengthy negotiations to finalize their electoral alliances.
The long talks, which lasted until registration deadline on Thursday, took place as Baghdad and most of the Iraqi provinces were hit by a series of earthquakes, and Seismic monitoring centers announced magnitude of the quake reached 5 degrees.
Leaders of blocs and parties continued discussing the issue of alliances until the registration's deadline, although the Electoral Commission extended the deadline more than once in order to give everyone better opportunities to complete negotiations, which lasted until the last minute.
Sunni blocs decided on an alliance of former prime minister and leader of the National Coalition, Iyad Allawi, with Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, and former deputy prime minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. However, the majority of Shiite forces, whether represented by State of Law Coalition led by Nuri al-Maliki, or the list representing Popular Mobilization Forces, have not decided even few hours before the deadline.
MP representing State of Law Coalition Rehab Abouda explained that delayed Shiite-Shiite coalition is attributed to the issue of "number one". She told Asharq al-Awsat that the choice of the first candidate at the top of the list seems to be the main obstacle since it will decide who will head the government after the next election.
Commander of the Badr Organization, Karim Nouri, criticized Shiite leaders and told Asharq al-Awsat that "the striking paradox is that political forces supporting holding the elections on time" stalled and did not agree on a name, as he wondered about the forces that demanded a postponement, in reference to Sunni forces.
However, MP Iyad al-Jubouri, member of Allawi-Jubouri-Mutlaq coalition, told Asharq al-Awsat that the disagreement over naming the "main man" was "not the first priority" in the negotiations for forming an alliance.
"The coalition, which includes many Sunni parties and forces with Iyad Allawi had decided," said Jubouri, adding that the coalition was not limited by a certain sect, just like in 2010 elections when the Iraqi List won majority of votes, but was denied the opportunity to form a government, even though it was headed by Shiite candidate.
The press secretary of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Haidar Hamadeh announced that Abadi would enter the elections with a "trans-sectarian" alliance, under the name of "Victory"(al-Nasr), but did not specify the parties that will be part of it.
In a press statement, Hamadeh said that "a large number of candidates for blocs and alliances want to join the coalition, including the volunteers who fought ISIS", adding that Abadi indicated that candidates in the coalition must not set conditions for quotas in government posts.
Speaking at a press conference in Basra, 560 kilometers south of Baghdad, US Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman said that elections will help achieve democracy, pointing out that “a conference will be held in Kuwait next month to help rebuild Iraq."