The Church calls on voters to choose representatives who are prepared and have "clean" hands to achieve “peace, stability and national unity". The electoral commission calls on 75 countries and foreign NGOs to monitor the vote. For radical Shia leader, it is “now acceptable” to participate.
Baghdad (AsiaNews) – In an appeal to the Iraqi people, the Chaldean Church calls for broad participation in next month’s parliamentary elections. Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr also backs the vote after expressing doubts.
In a note posted on the patriarchate website signed by Card Louis Raphael Sako, the Chaldean Church urges voters to “choose representatives” who know "politics, the law and people's needs”, who have “clean” hands, this in a country plagued by decades of malfeasance and corruption.
Change is needed, notes the cardinal, because "the previous elections were disappointing". What is more, many fear destabilisation and an Afghan scenario should the US pull out all its troops.
The elections, originally set for June, will now take place in October, unless they are further postponed. Voters will pick 328 members of the Council of Representatives, who will in turn elect a new president and choose a new prime minister and government.
In recent days, Jalil Adnan Khalaf, head of the Independent High Electoral Commission, said that 75 nations and international NGOs were asked to monitor the election to avoid fraud and disputes.
A crucial move came from Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who is now backing the election. Initially, he had called on his supporters to boycott the vote. His constituency includes millions of people and he has a paramilitary militia at his command.
Al-Sadr’s change of heart appears to be his desire to help the authorities “put an end to corruption” after attacking for years what he called the negative influence of both Iran and the United States on the life of the country.
In a recent televised intervention, surrounded by dozens of loyalists and wearing a black turban suggesting direct descent from the prophet Mohammed, al-Sadr said that voting is “now acceptable”.
The Saairun (Forward) alliance[*] linked to the Shia leader is the largest group in the outgoing parliament, with 54 seats out of a total of 328.
The new electoral law supported by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi reduces the size of constituencies and eliminates unified lists in favour of single candidates. It is expected to guarantee broad success.
In his appeal, the Chaldean patriarch expressed “closeness to the aspirations of Iraqis for peace, stability and national unity,” noting that the government in Baghdad has the task of guaranteeing an electoral climate that allows for a “free and fair vote”.
Finally, Card Sako explained that various Christian groups were unable to agree on a “single Christian list”.
Nevertheless, “we invite Christians to choose candidates according to precise criteria” and “we ask our Muslim brothers to vote for people who love Iraq and work for the good of its people.”
[*] Alliance Towards Reforms or Marching Towards Reform.