In making the optimistic case for the development of democracy here, American officials typically point to the 2010 parliamentary elections, which were judged largely free and fair by international monitors including the United Nations. But with the arrest of the head of Iraq’s election commission, the prospect for fair elections has been thrown into question. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, center, in March. He has been seeking to consolidate control over the electoral commission. Faraj al-Haidari, chief of the Independent High Electoral Commission, spent most of the weekend in a jail cell after being arrested on corruption charges on Thursday. He was released on Sunday afternoon after posting bail of $12,500.
Iraq: Political factions accuse Prime Minister of ‘dictatorship’ after arrest of election official | Al-Arabiya
Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq’s electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday. Faraj al-Haidari, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), was detained on Thursday for alleged corruption along with another of the body’s members, Karim al-Tamimi. Anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr accused Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of being behind the arrests to obstruct the electoral process, joining other key Iraqi political actors who have made the same charge. “The one who ordered the arrest is, to be precise, brother Nuri al-Maliki,” Sadr said in a statement issued by his office in Najaf.
A judge from Iraq’s anti-corruption watchdog has ordered the head of the nation’s electoral commission and another member of the panel to be jailed until Sunday, a fellow commission member said. Faraj Al Haidari, the head of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and member Karim Al Tamimi are jailed “until Sunday due to a decision taken by a judge from the integrity commission,” a member of IHEC said on Friday on condition of anonymity. The judge could also order an extension of their custody. Asked about the matter, Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki’s spokesman Ali Mussawi said only that “it is a judicial issue related to the integrity commission and the judiciary.”