Thursday, May 24, 2018

Iraq’s Election Fraud Controversy


After every election in Iraq parties claim there was cheating. Some of this is due to actual fraud that took place, but others are simply upset with their poor showing. This year seems more serious as a variety of parties are threatening lawsuits, boycotts and demonstrations, along with the prime minister and United Nations asking the Election Commission to take these charges seriously.

The Election Commission has been caught up in the controversy over the voting. On May 16, the head of the Election Commission rejected a manual recount after various calls for one. That led Prime Minister Haidar Abadi to write to the Integrity Commission to investigate violations by the Election Commission. The United Nations has also asked for an inquiry. The Election Commission head did admit that there were problems with the new electronic voting machines the country was using for the first time. A member of the Commission told the Voice of America that some members rejected a manual recount because it would undermine its authority. Then on May 21, the Commission threw out the results from 103 stations in Baghdad, Irbil, Anbar, Salahaddin, and Ninewa due to various violations and errors. The combination of cancelling the votes and in general refusing to deal with the various complaints has undermine the Election Commission. Government offices are generally unresponsive to the public, but in this case it's the political parties and the U.N. it’s not answering to. This lack of transparency is only adding to the suspicions of wrong doing.

There have been charges of cheating in Kirkuk, Kurdistan, Ninewa, and Anbar and from a variety of parties as well. In Kirkuk, the Turkmen Front, the Arab Coalition, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and Badr-Fatah have all accused the PUK of rigging the vote. There have been protests nearly every day since the vote as a result in Kirkuk city, and the Counter Terrorism Forces were sent in to try to restore order. In Kurdistan, all the opposition parties and the KDP have made similar charges, with some threatening to boycott politics and go to court until their accusations are dealt with. In Ninewa, one parliamentarian said that votes in displaced camps run by the government were ignored, while the PUK said that the KDP intimidated voters and tampered with voting in Sinjar. Anbar officials and politicians have claimed that Jamal Karbouli’s Solution list fixed the vote there buying and forging voting cards. There have also been some political parties that have complained about the balloting in general such as Vice President Nuri al-Maliki from State of Law, the spokesman for the Fatah list, and Vice President Iyad Allawi’s Wataniya. Some of these protests like the ones by the Kurdish opposition arise from a mix of actual cheating and their poor showing. They believed they would do much better given the problems in Kurdistan, but because they all ran separately they split their vote and didn’t end up with as many seats for each individual party as hoped for. At the same time, as the dismissed ballots show there were problems in several provinces. Again, because the Election Commission has not dealt with these parties it has only made them angrier, and increased their protests. There are more parties in Kirkuk and Kurdistan for instance talking about withdrawing from the process, and the marches in Kirkuk city continue. This might only escalate and undermine the authenticity of the vote if they are not addressed.

SOURCES

Aldroubi, Mina, “Iraq’s north faces instability after polls close,” The National, 5/13/18

Ali, Sangar, “Kurdish parties call for manual recount in Sulaimani over allegations of voter fraud,” Kurdistan 24, 5/13/18

Baghdad Post, “Abadi orders manual counting for disputed ballot boxes in Kirkuk,” 5/14/18
- “KDP rejects parliamentary elections results,” 5/14/18
- “Political blocs file 200 challenges against results of elections,” 5/22/18
- “Turkmen protest in Daquq, Kirkuk against electoral fraud,” 5/13/18

Bas News, “Gorran to Boycott Iraqi Parliament, Political Process: MP,” 5/19/18
- “Six Kurdish Parties Demand Repeat of Parliamentary Election in Kurdistan,” 5/14/18

Coles, Isabel and Nabhan, Ali, “Questions Mount About Possible Fraud in Iraq Vote,” Wall Street Journal, 5/17/18

Al Gharbiya News, “Anti-terrorism forces intervenes to contain demonstrations in Kirkuk,” 5/13/18

Hussein, Rikar, “Iraq Election Body Feared Effects of Recount, Member Says,” Voice of America, 5/19/18

Iraq News Network, “Governor of Kirkuk: Electoral results for the province are illogical,” 5/19/18

Al Maalomah, “Anbar official reveals Solution List falsification of election results and purchase of voter cards,” 5/13/18
- “Badr Leader: 70 polling stations had manipulated results in the vote in Kirkuk,” 5/13/18
- “Barham Salah’s Party threatens to take to the streets in protest against rigging the election,” 5/17/18
- “Al-Fatah alliance questions the existence of fraud and demands manual counting of 5% of the stations,” 5/13/18
- “Hit residents assert Karbouli committed large fraud in elections,” 5/17/18
- “The Kurdistan Islamic Union confirms its rejection of the election results and holds the Election Commission responsible,” 5/17/18
- “Turkmen Front formally challenges Kirkuk election results,” 5/21/18

Al Masalah, “The Kurdistan Islamic Group threatens to withdraw from the political process,” 5/20/18
- “New Generation accuses the Barzani and Talabani parties of rigging 640 thousand votes,” 5/20/18
- “The Turkmen Front vows to prosecute the Election Commission,” 5/19/18

Nawzad, Kosar, “Iraqi VP’s Coalition rejects election results, calls for formation of emergency provisional government,” Kurdistan 24, 5/13/18
- “Turkmen, Arabs in Kirkuk give 48-hour ultimatum to Electoral Commission,” Kurdistan 24, 5/21/18

NINA, “Ali al-Maliki: Rigging Elections Prepared In Advance: We Demand Re-Counting And Sorting Manually All Over Iraq,” 5/17/18
- “The Change Movement (Goran) Threatens To Boycott The Political Process In Iraq,” 5/16/18
- “A Demonstration For Arabs And Turkmen Renewed In Kirkuk,” 5/18/18
- “Thousands of Turkmen and Arabs are taking to the streets of Kirkuk to protest the announcement of the results,” 5/15/18

NRT, “Supporters Of Six Parties Protest Against Election Results In Erbil,” 5/15/18

Rudaw, “Abadi calls for investigation into electoral commission violations,” 5/17/18
- “Iraq election body throws out votes from 103 polling stations,” 5/21/18
- “LIVE: Polls close in Iraq’s 2018 parliamentary election, results as we get them,” 5/12/18
- “PUK accuses KDP of election fraud in Nineveh and Shingal,” 5/14/18
- “Six Kurdish parties consider withdrawing from Iraqi political process,” 5/18/18

Shafaaq News, “Protests by supporters of the popular crowd and encirclement of the UNHCR building and polling stations in Kirkuk,” 5/12/18

Sulaivany, Karzan, “Iraqi Parliament fails to meet quorum in emergency session following elections,” Kurdistan 24, 5/19/18

Wataniya, “The Election Commission has calculated the results of the election for the displaced camps under the control of region only,” 5/22/18


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