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Iraq Anti-Govt Movement Announces Elections Boycott after Activist’s Assassination

Iraq Anti-Govt Movement Announces Elections Boycott after Activist’s Assassination

Tuesday, 11 May, 2021 - 06:15
People chant slogans as they march with the body of renowned Iraqi anti-government activist Ihab al-Wazni during a funerary procession in the central city of Karbala on May 9, 2021. (AFP)

Twenty movements and parties affiliated with the anti-government protests in Iraq declared on Monday their boycott of the upcoming parliamentary elections, set for October, in wake of the wave of assassinations against activists.

They pledged to continue the peaceful popular “struggle”.

On Sunday, prominent activist Ihab al-Wazni was killed in Karbala city, while journalist Ahmed Hassan was in critical condition after being shot by assailants near Diwaniyah.

Activists were outraged by Wazni’s assassination, attacking the Iranian consulate in Karbala.

Activists widely view Iran as the culprit in the assassinations that have targeted their colleagues.

Tehran, meanwhile, urged the Iraqi government to ensure the safety of the consulate and its other diplomatic missions, filing a complaint to Baghdad in wake of the Karbala unrest.

The assassinations have confirmed fears among the activists that the murders will only increase as the elections draw near.

People are despairing at the Iraqi authorities’ inability to put an end to the assassinations and the “death squads” that are terrorizing the people by attacking unarmed activists.

The announcement of the elections boycott by the anti-government protesters has only fueled the debate over the purpose of taking part in the elections in wake of the spread of weapons outside state control, the ongoing assassination and authorities’ inability to provide the necessary safe conditions for fair and transparent elections to be held.

Others oppose the boycott, saying they will grant parties already in power and their militias legitimacy that they do not deserve.

US-based Iraqi researcher Samir Souza said he understands the disparate positions on the elections.

“I fear that the October forces’ participation in the elections will grant legitimacy to a silly political process that is being led by murders armed with silencers and katyusha rockets,” he added.

The youths had taken to the streets in October 2019 in the first place to protest against such a process, he remarked.

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