Iraq’s official electoral commission on Sunday rejected proposals to allow the Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias, to register itself as a political party in advance of elections slated for next year. The decision came one day after prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr declared that the country’s next government would be a “government of militias” if the Hashd al-Shaabi were allowed to field candidates in provincial council and parliamentary polls slated for 2017 and 2018 respectively. In a Sunday statement, the commission said it had based its decision on the fact that the Hashd al-Shaabi constituted a “military organization with links to the [Iraqi] security agencies”.
Iraq’s Political Parties Law, it went on to explain, which was ratified by parliament last year, prohibited the registration of “military or paramilitary organizations” as political parties.
On July 20, the electoral commission began the registration process for political parties that planned to participate in the upcoming elections.
According to Hashd al-Shaabi spokesman Karim al-Nouri, the militia group’s primary responsibility at present was to pursue the fight against the ISIL extremist organization, which continues to hold large swathes of territory in war-torn Iraq. “Our presence in the battlefield today is to confront ISIL,” al-Nouri told Anadolu Agency on Sunday