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Iraqi Protest Leaders Launch Political Blocs, Seek to Partake in Elections

Iraqi Protest Leaders Launch Political Blocs, Seek to Partake in Elections

Sunday, 17 January, 2021 - 08:00
A side of clashes between anti-government activists and security forces in Iraq's southern Nasiriyah city last week (AFP)

Newly formed political blocs linked to anti-government protests in Iraq, also known as the ‘October Revolution,’ have expressed their desire to partake in the upcoming Levantine country’s general elections slotted for next June.

Activists predicted that no less than 10 parties will push for demands made by October Revolution protesters in upcoming parliamentary elections.

During the last few days, two parties of activists announced their willingness to challenge Iraq's political class in June’s ballot vote. It is expected that other parties that emerged from the mass 2019 protests will follow suit.

Prominent October Revolution leader Alaa al-Rikabi revealed, at a press conference on Friday, that the new Imtidad Movement would "confront the corruption of the current regime" in parliamentary elections.

He said the name referred to the party being an "extension" of the protest movement, which began in October 2019 and encouraged mass protests around the country until the coronavirus pandemic limited their ability to mobilize.

Rikabi announced the new party in nearby Samawah, instead of Nasiriyah city, where he is based, because of fears about attacks from rival parties.

Militia attacks continue to affect activists in Nasiriyah. Only two days ago, the home of local activist Wahab Al-Hamdani was attacked.

Serious damage done to the residence was reported.

Another party, called the October 25 Movement, also held a conference to announce plans for partaking in elections and stress the importance of political work supporting the country’s economy and countering Iranian influence in Iraq.

“After a long effort and a process challenged by many obstacles and troubles, we broke the barrier of time, abandoned fear, and announced the October 25 Movement as the first strategic political project that calls for the separation of religion and state, stands firmly against Iran's destabilizing policies, and puts Iraq's interests first,” one of the movement’s founders, Talal al-Hariri, said in a tweet.

He went on to explain how his party works to ensure the integrity of anti-state protests against the backdrop of opportunist Islamists who seek to take over.

In other news, UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the appointment of Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir of Iceland as his new Deputy Special Representative for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

Gísladóttir succeeds Alice Walpole of the United Kingdom, who will complete her assignment end of February 2021.

Gísladóttir brings a wealth of diplomatic and political experience to the position, including from her recent role as Director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and most recently as the Head of its Election Observation Mission in Ukraine.

She also served as UN Women’s Regional Director in Europe and Central Asia and its Country Representative in Turkey and Afghanistan. She was Iceland’s Foreign Affairs Minister from 2007 to 2009, member of Parliament for seven years, and Mayor of Reykjavík for nine years. She is also a member of the Nordic Women’s Mediators Network.

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