The board of Iraq’s electoral commission resigned en masse on Tuesday in protest at political and judicial “interference,” throwing a general election due next month into disarray. The sudden decision comes with doubts already swirling over whether the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) could organize polling nationwide on April 30 with anti-government fighters in control of a city on Baghdad’s doorstep. Much is at stake in the election, as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki bids for a third term with his security credentials thrown into question by a surge in violence to levels not seen since 2008. The nine-member IHEC board handed in its resignation in protest at what it said were conflicting rulings from parliament and the judiciary on the barring of would-be candidates for the election.
“The commission is today caught between two authorities — the legislative and the judicial — and the two have issued contradictory decisions,” IHEC spokesman Safa al-Mussawi told AFP. “We are stuck in the middle, so we have decided to resign, and we are waiting for the chairman’s approval.”
An aide to IHEC chairman Sarbat Rashid told AFP that he backed the decision. An IHEC board member said the same. “They are very frustrated with this judicial panel for the elections… excluding candidates,” a diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity. “They are very unhappy with judicial interference, with political interference.”
The resignations still have to be approved by parliament, the source added.