A group of Iraqi legislators plans to submit a petition to the speaker of parliament requesting the deposition of executive council members of the Independent High Electoral Commission with an eye toward the commission’s dissolution. The group objects to the commission having been formed based on the quota system, as a result of members being nominated by the parliament, and thus in a corruptive manner. More than 100 members of parliament from the Al-Ahrar bloc, affiliated with the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Reform Front, close to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, signed the petition July 19. The move, coming less than a year before local elections, seems to have become a ritual preceding every election. This time, the demand is being packaged as part of the ongoing push for political reforms. At a protest in Baghdad on July 15, Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, had called for the commission to be dismissed because of its basis in the partisan, sectarian quota system. He is calling for a technocratic electoral commission with members appointed by the judiciary, a proposal that would require new legislation.
On July 19, Rasoul al-Taei of Al-Ahrar said in a statement, “The MPs who signed the request are collecting evidence and documents for dossiers to prove [individual] corruption and that the commission’s head and council members are not professional [experts].” He also said, “This cannot overlook the possibility that the commission’s council members are subordinate to well-established political parties, based on which the commission’s executive council was formed.”
Although accusations of corruption have been made against members of the commission, and repeated demands have been made for the nonsectarian selection of electoral commission members, exactly how a new commission should be selected remains undecided. As an example of accusations against members of the commission, some critics point to Faraj al-Haidari, a former commission head who was accused of bribing public employees to vote for a particular party in the 2010 elections. The judiciary’s Commission of Public Integrity detained Haidari for a time, but the charges against him were never proven.
Full Article: Demand for reform reaches Iraq’s electoral commission.