05/03/2018, 13.47
IRAQ
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A divided Iraq set to vote: the 'shoe-thrower', who attacked Bush, runs for parliament

On May 12, 24 million Iraqis are called to vote. The lists are divided: five Shiite, six Kurdish and after years of boycott Sunnis also return to the vote, in part immediately.

Baghadad (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Muntader al-Zaidi, famous for having launched both shoes at the then American president George W. Bush in 2008, is a candidate for the parliamentary elections to be held on May 12th.

A journalist at the time, Zaidi had launched the shoes to Bush "for all widows, orphans and those killed in Iraq" following the American invasion of 2003. The protest had earned him the title of "hero" for many compatriots, but also an eight-month detention, during which he claims to have been tortured.

Upon his release, Zaidi abandoned journalism to found a humanitarian organization in Europe to support the victims of the Iraq war. Now, he promises to "chase thieves and corrupt" from Iraq, running for elections with the "Sa'iroun" ("Running") "list, allied to" Istiqama "(integrity), founded by the religious leader Moqtada Sadr.

On May 12, about 24 million Iraqis are called to choose among the 88 candidate lists in the first elections since Baghdad announced the defeat of ISIS, last December. The 328 parliamentary seats will be divided according to a proportional representation system, with 46 seats reserved for the Kurds and a quarter for women.

The country presents itself for elections with deep divisions. After years of boycott the Sunnis return to the vote fragmented by external influences, with their largest block represented by the "Unity" coalition.

The Kurds are also split, presenting themselves with six lists instead of three. The two groups, before the January announcement of the electoral date, had requested the postponement of the elections to encourage the return of the hundreds of thousands who fled during the conflict. For Farah Sarraj, an outgoing MP and a candidate for the "National Alliance " list, the elections in Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, a majority Sunni area with Christian and Kurdish minorities, could be distorted because only 20% of displaced people have returned, while missing and dead voters are still registered. In the area where, according to Sarraj, the influence of Shiite militias is strong, the traditional Sunni parties present themselves with new names, to distance themselves from the past.

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