More Post-Election De-Baathification: Another Blow to the Idea of Democracy in Iraq
Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 26 April 2010 14:51
Iraq’s powerful de-Baathification committee has dealt another blow to the idea of democracy in Iraq: After many conflicting reports over the weekend, it is becoming increasingly clear that the board’s attempt to de-Baathify 55 of the replacement candidates for other candidates that were themselves de-Baathified has been sustained by the special judicial board for the elections, along with an acceptance of its proposal to annul the personal votes for these candidates instead of transferring them to their list.
With respect to the politics of this, the de-Baathification committee, of course, is largely controlled by the pro-Iranian Iraqi National Alliance, whereas the special judicial board for the elections is seen as leaning towards Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki after its decision to allow a Baghdad recount. The main victim of these decisions, Iraqiyya, has no significant influence in either body. The Kurdish chief of the elections commission IHEC, Faraj al-Haydari, had previously expressed his distaste for the idea of annulling the votes altogether.
Because of the messy process in which candidates were struck from the ballots right until the last minute, it is still unclear exactly which individuals are subject to the new decision. Seat-winning candidates that could be in trouble include Ibrahim al-Mutlak, the replacement candidate for Salih al-Mutlak who got some 5,400 personal votes and a seat in Baghdad. The same situation may possibly apply for candidate number two for Iraqiyya in Anbar, another Mutlak (Hamid Abid), who was not listed on most IHEC lists prior to the election and therefore may have also been a replacement candidate – in this case representing some 14,700 personal votes.
Crucially, these examples show that this is about more than candidates – it is also about voters. Here we have two examples and some 20,000 Iraqis whose votes may simply be stolen from them according to procedures that are not based on any law or even any IHEC regulation. In particular, the decision to penalise voters who used the open-list system by annulling their active use of the ballot (a passive list vote would not have been cancelled) risks putting the whole idea of democracy in disrepute in Iraq.
The de-Baathified candidates have been given one month to complain the decision – another ad hoc legal concoction by IHEC and something which firmly pushes certification of the results towards June, regardless of what happens to the Baghdad recount as well as further demands for recounts by the Kurds in some of the northern governorates (which apparently remain pending).
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