Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for May 24th, 2010

Last-Minute Certification Hurdles?

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 24 May 2010 19:02

There are conflicting stories out of Iraq about some last-minute challenges to the parliamentary election result that could mean further delays in the process of certifying them.

The first is a Reuters report claiming that “four former seat-winners” in Baghdad who had lost their personal seats in the recount have mounted appeals. This seems untrustworthy for two reasons: Firstly, there are only three and not four changes in the Baghdad recount. Second, one of them pertains to Ibrahim al-Mutlak, who presumably has already appealed the decision to exclude him on the basis of de-Baathification earlier – his appearance as a case of  “change” in the Baghdad recount is entirely spurious and has nothing to do with votes that had been miscounted. Only Maysun al-Damluji and Jabir Habib Jabir lost their personal seats as the result of the recount.

The second is an even more fantastic-sounding story (but reported in different iterations by a number of sources) that the ministries of interior and defence have sent letters asking for the disqualification of two seat-winning candidates, Abdallah Hasan Rashid of Iraqiyya in Diyala, and Furat al-Sharaa of ISCI/INA in Basra. The former is supposedly convicted in a serious-crime case and the second is an officer in the Iraqi army and as such should not be permitted to stand for election (though he has already served in the Basra provincial council).

The awkward legal justification for this kind of appeal (so long after all reasonable deadlines have expired) plus the seniority of the people involved (they are number one and two on the result lists for their entities and have close to 40,000 personal votes each which is more than the average electoral divider)  make it difficult to discount the idea of political motives. A quick recalculation of the results based on the annulment of votes for excluded candidates (it remains unclear what IHEC has decided to do on this, for example in the case of Ibrahim al-Mutlak) suggests that State of Law could win one seat in Diyala and Iraqiyya could lose one if the large vote for Rashid is cancelled (on top of that of Raad al-Bayati). In Basra, State of Law would apparently also win one seat and Iraqiyya  (rather than INA) would lose one, all due to the change in the electoral divider (very quick back-of-an-envelope calculation, disregarding minor changes due to post-election de-Baathification of non-winning candidates). And voila, State of Law would apparently have more seats nationally than Iraqiyya! The attack on both Iraqiyya and ISCI makes it somewhat hard to avoid a conspiracy theory involving sympathisers with State of Law within the defence and interior ministries – perhaps another rapprochement between State of Law and Unity of Iraq/Bolani?

A slightly less sinister explanation would be that this is all theatre agreed by the Iraqi politicians to win some more time and avoid early certification of the results…

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