Najm Harbi was one of the most popular candidates in Diyala province in the March 2010 elections. He was the former mayor of Muqtadiya and the head of Saleh al-Mutlaq’s Iraqi National Dialogue Front for the governorate, which was part of Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National Movement. He ended up being one of the largest vote getters with 28,273 ballots, which earned him a seat in Iraq’s new parliament. The problem was that when he was declared a winner he’d been in jail for over a month.
On February 7, 2010 Diyala police arrested Harbi for allegedly supporting insurgents. Those charges were dropped however for lack of evidence. The Counterterrorism Task Force that reports directly to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, then snatched him up and took him to Baghdad on February 10, where he’s been ever since. While little is known about his case, the U.S. military did say that he had stolen money from government projects in Diyala, and reporters were later told that he was accused of financing militants in the province.
Harbi’s problems didn’t end there however, as the Accountability and Justice Commission wanted to ban him as well. After the vote, the Commission said that it wanted to disqualify Harbi for alleged ties to Baathists and throw out his votes as well. Harbi’s fate was up in the air until the very end of May. That’s when the National Movement decided to replace Harbi with Mohammad Othman Khalidi of the Iraqi National List. That was one of the last hang-ups before the Election Commission sent the election results to the Supreme Court, who then ratified the vote on June 1.
Harbi’s case was one of many before the election results were finally certified that threatened to overturn Iyad Allawi’s razor thin lead over Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law. Maliki has also been known to use the security forces against his opponents in Diyala, so there was much suspicion that the arrest of Harbi, especially after the local police released him, was a political move by the Prime Minister. As it turned out, Harbi’s detention and subsequent disqualification did not change the vote. Allawi still came out the winner despite the deBaathification and re-count controversies that were launched by the Sadrist-Supreme Council led-Iraqi National Alliance and State of Law against him. While they failed that take away any seats from Allawi, they did give the two Shiite lists the time to merge together. They will now name the next prime minister, and it won’t be Allawi, although he’ll still get a seat at the table.
AK News, “Court ratifies election results and excludes two candidates,” 6/1/10
- “Diyala Commission: “Al-Khalidi and al-Bayati replace al-Jabouri and al-Harbi in the parliament,”” 6/3/10
Shadid, Anthony, “Iraqi Court Ratifies Election Results,” New York Times, 6/1/10
Visser, Reidar, “A Certified Mess,” Iraq And Gulf Analysis, 6/1/10
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