Middle East and North Africa

Articles about voting issues in the Middle East and North Africa.

Afghanistan: Head of Afghan election body sacked, raising doubts over 2018 ballots | Reuters

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani sacked the chairman of the country’s Independent Election Commission on Wednesday, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned. Najibullah Ahmadzai, head of the body charged with organizing the elections, had faced growing pressure following repeated delays to preparations for them and had lost the support of both Ghani and disillusioned foreign donors. The 2018 votes are seen as dry runs for a presidential election in 2019 and a key test of the progress made by Afghanistan’s Western-backed government towards establishing durable democratic institutions. Read More

Iraq: Voting will be electronic in Iraq’s next parliamentary elections | Rudaw

Electronic voting boxes have been prepared for parliamentary elections next year, Iraq’s High Independent Electoral Commission has told Rudaw. Ali Qadir, head of the commission’s office in Erbil, told Rudaw that Iraq’s next parliamentary elections will be conducted electronically. “The electronic boxes do not need electricity or internet to work. They work on a vista system and have their own batteries. The boxes will themselves count and separate the votes at the time the votes are cast,” Qadir said. Read More

Israel: Government Eyes Measures To Prevent Election Cyber Sabotage | Vos Iz Neias

Israel is on guard against hacking ahead of the next general election, one of its most senior cyber security officials said, identifying Iran as posing the greatest overall risk to the country’s cyber security. The government is bracing against the risks of fake news, possible denial of service attacks on civic institutions, or efforts to hack the correspondence of politicians or government officials in order to leak embarrassing details. “We are on the way to identifying and assisting from a distance everywhere we find or identify as a vulnerability … and make it tougher for the bad guys to hack,” Yigal Unna, head of technology at the prime minister’s cyber directorate, told a Reuters Cyber Security Summit. Since the 2016 U.S. election, Western countries have been fretting about the possibility of Russian hacking to influence their internal politics. Read More

Pakistan: Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 to be presented for approval in National Assembly today | Pakistan Today

The Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 will be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday, after the Senate last week passed the bill. The acceptance of the bill in the National Assembly which will pave the way for Nawaz Sharif to regain chairmanship of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Earlier in August, after Nawaz had been disqualified according to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case, the ECP had informed the PML-N that according to the Political Parties Order 2002, a disqualified MNA would not hold any position in the party. Read More

Iraq: Kurdish leader says ‘yes’ vote won independence referendum | Reuters

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said on Tuesday that Kurds had voted “yes” to independence in a referendum held in defiance of the government in Baghdad and which had angered their neighbors and their U.S. allies. The Kurds, who have ruled over an autonomous region within Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, consider Monday’s referendum to be an historic step in a generations-old quest for a state of their own. Iraq considers the vote unconstitutional, especially as it was held not only within the Kurdish region itself but also on disputed territory held by Kurds elsewhere in northern Iraq. The United States, major European countries and neighbors Turkey and Iran strongly opposed the decision to hold the referendum, which they described as destabilizing at a time when all sides are still fighting against Islamic State militants. Read More

Iraq: Thousands of attempts to crash e-voting site for Kurdistan referendum “failed,” developer says | Kurdistan24

The company who developed the website for people in the Diaspora to cast their ballot in the Kurdistan Referendum announced it had successfully stopped thousands of attempts to take down the e-voting site. Speaking to Kurdistan 24, Gohdar Jadir Ibrahim, Director of Awrosoft Company, the website developer responsible for the Kurdistan Referendum e-voting portal, confirmed there were hacking attempts to prevent people of the Kurdistan Region in the Diaspora from voting, but that they had “all failed.” “In three days, we received 815,000 visits.  Read More

Iraq: Kurds in Iraq vote in historic independence referendum  | The Washington Post

Kurds packed polling stations across northern Iraq on Monday in a historic referendum on independence despite vigorous opposition from the country’s central government as well as regional and world powers. Church bells tolled, and imams implored Kurds over mosque loudspeakers to vote when polls opened across the Kurdish region — a swath of mountains, oil fields and desert that has been run as a semiautonomous enclave for decades. The poll is expected to produce an overwhelming “yes” result that many Kurds see as the culmination of a century-long and bloody struggle for self-determination. Kurdish authorities said that 3.9 million people were eligible to vote and that final results were expected by Thursday. Read More

Iraq: ‘The best day of my life’: Iraqi Kurds vote in independence referendum | The Guardian

Thousands of people in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq have cast votes in a referendum billed as a first step towards independence from Baghdad, defying regional demands that the ballot be abandoned and international fears that the outcome could spark violence. As voting stations closed, more than 80% of registered voters had cast ballots in a poll that many felt went beyond the demands of Iraq’s Kurdish north to buttress the cause of Kurds across the region. Leaders in Erbil had tried to confine aspirations to within the Kurdish regional government’s current boundaries in Iraq. However, Iran, Turkey and Baghdad fear the ballot could provide momentum to restive Kurdish movements and potentially destabilise borders elsewhere in the region. Iraq’s parliament on Monday debated a motion to send troops into disputed areas south of Kirkuk that were contentiously included in the referendum. Read More

Iraq: Kurds vote in independence referendum | Al Jazeera

People in Iraq’s autonomous region of Kurdistan are voting in an independence referendum, amid rising tensions and international opposition. Polls opened at 05:00 GMT with balloting also taking place in the disputed areas between the northern city of Erbil and the capital Baghdad, as well as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk, which is ethnically mixed. The central government in Baghdad, which strongly opposes the referendum, sought control of the region’s international border posts and airports on Sunday, in anticipation of Monday’s vote. Iraq’s government has also called on foreign countries to stop importing oil from the Kurdish region and to deal with them instead. Read More

Iraq: Referendum puts U.S. at odds with old ally in the Middle East | The Washington Post

Relations between the United States and the Iraqi Kurds, strong allies over decades of intermittent war, are on a collision course that weeks of strenuous U.S. efforts have failed to prevent. On Monday, Iraq’s Kurdistan region plans to hold an independence vote that the Trump administration says has already undermined the fight against the Islamic State, threatens next spring’s hoped-for reelection of the current Iraqi government and may ultimately destroy the self-sufficient Kurdish region itself. The rare U.S. inability to sway the Kurds — despite promises of more aid and the quick convening of U.S.- and U.N.-sponsored negotiations with Baghdad over long-standing Kurdish grievances — is a reminder that American influence over even its closest partners in the Middle East has always been limited. Read More