Iraq’s electoral commission said on Tuesday that there will be no balloting in parts of the Sunni-dominated Anbar province engulfed in clashes between security forces and al-Qaida-inspired militants. Since late December, the western Anbar province has seen fierce fighting between government troops and allied tribal militias on one side, and militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaida spin-off group, on the other. The militants have seized and are continuing to hold parts of the provincial capital, Ramadi, and nearly all of the nearby city of Fallujah.
The exclusion of major Sunni cities such as Ramadi and Fallujah — where most of the fighting is underway as Iraqi forces try to wrest back areas overrun by militants — from the April 30 voting for Iraq’s new parliament could deepen Sunni fears of being marginalized by the country’s Shiite majority.
In a press conference in Baghdad, a member of the Independent High Electoral Commission, Muqdad al-Shuraifi, said the “commission cannot send its employees and balloting-related equipment, as well as logistics, to the areas where security operations are underway.”
He did not specifically name the areas seized by the militants but assured families displaced by the fighting that they will be allowed to vote in areas deemed “safe” or in parts of the province where they found shelter or in other provinces where some of them ended up.