Friday, 6 November 2009

Iraqi CP position regarding Election Law impasse

Iraqi CP: Differences must be overcome
to get the Election Law approved

The editorial of "Tareeq Al-Shaab" (People's Path), the central organ of the Iraqi Communist Party, published on 4 November 2009, dealt with the continuing deadlock over the election law. The following are extensive excerpts of this editorial:

Iraqi citizens have been following with interest the sessions of Parliament, waiting to see white smoke signaling the adoption of the new election law, either in accordance with the proposed amendments, or maintaining in force the old, and still valid, Law No.16 (2005).

It is known that the discussions on the election law have gone through various stages that witnessed a lot of debate and dialogue, and differences and deadlock. When the Parliament failed to agree on endorsing the law, it sought the help of the Political Council of National Security to resolve the problem and overcome the Kirkuk obstacle which was forcibly included in the discussions of the law.

Certain formulations were reached by the President, the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, but they were not accepted by all the relevant parties. They also faced technical barriers that were said to be connected to the electoral register in Kirkuk for the year 2004.

Observers of the parliamentary sessions about the election law and the statements made by the parties would come to the conclusion that the election law has been overburdened in order to achieve electoral gains in advance. The aim for some is to ensure that they maintain positions of decision-making, domination and influence, paying no attention to the repercussions of prolonging arguments and escalating sharp disagreements on citizens and their mood, the negative effects on the political process, and the resulting loopholes that are exploited by the terrorist and anti-people forces. Furthermore, continuing the state of indecision will have a negative impact on the participation of broad masses of the people, especially since significant sections express, one way or another, their lack of enthusiasm for going to the polls because of ruling forces and blocs have failed to fulfill their promises and the pledges they had made to the voters.

The past few days have provided further evidence that influential forces continue to put their own priorities foremost, at the expense of the general interests of the people and the homeland. It goes without saying that these forces will also bear responsibility for any delay in holding elections on schedule on 16 January 2010.

We reaffirm our position that calls for recognizing the importance and necessity of holding the elections on schedule, especially since there are amendments to the current election law which enjoy consensus. These amendments constitute in our view, in the current climate of logjam, a way to overcome this situation, endorse amending the election law, and begin the actual preparations for the elections. The amendments that are the subject of agreement are:

- To fix the election date on 16 January 2010.
- To determine the number of members of Parliament based on the statistical data provided by the relevant departments.
- To replace the word "voters" in the election law in force with the word "population" for the purpose of determining the members of Parliament.
- To adopt the "open" electoral list rather than the "closed" list.
[ i.e. whether voters will be able to read the names of the individual politicians standing for office, or whether they will be asked to cast their vote simply for anonymous party blocs.]
- To establish a committee made up of Parliament and the Independent Higher Electoral Commission, in cooperation with the United Nations, to check the voters register and put an end to the controversy over its accuracy and the harm it does to the interests of this party or that.
- To accept the election results, and to stress that they do not affect the legal status of any province.

If the intention is serious and sincere regarding amendments, then what is the subject of agreement, as mentioned above, can be approved and incorporated into the new law.

As for the issue of Kirkuk, it should be tackled within a constitutional context, and the solution is not linked to the adoption of the election law which is supposed to be comprehensive and covers all the provinces of Iraq. This legal context is based on Article 140 of the Constitution. The delay and inaction, and sometimes neglect, in implementing this article by successive governments have contributed to aggravating the matter instead of moving forward consistently to implement the roadmap set forth in Article 140. If this had been done and implemented, we would not have arrived at the point where we are now with regard to the situation in the city of Kirkuk.

Another factor obstructing efforts to reach a solution is the failure to conduct a population census, which, if it had been carried out in time, would have overcome a lot of present problems and obstacles.

We were fully confident that Kirkuk and other issues could have been addressed within the context of adopting the proposal of conducting the elections according to proportional representation and considering Iraq as one electoral constituency. This is a formula which we believe to be more just and democratic, a better articulation of the principle of citizenship, embodying national unity and ensuring the representation of all the political, ethnic, religious and confessional components in the new Parliament.

We stress anew the need to overcome the differences between the political blocs, confine the amendments to the election law to the points that are the subject of agreement, hold the elections at the specified time, and deny the enemies of our homeland and people the chance to inflict harm.

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