09/30/2021, 00.00
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Baghdad, Christian MP: Duty to vote, despite 'marginal' change

by Dario Salvi

On October 10, the nation will go to the polls for the renewal of Parliament in a climate of mistrust. The new Chamber is called to choose the Prime Minister and the President. There are several unresolved issues, from the death of activists to widespread corruption. Rihan Hanna Ayoub excludes radical changes, but shares the patriarch's appeal for participation. An Afghan scenario for the country is excluded. 

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Iraqis are not looking forward with great hope for a 'radical change" in the upcoming general elections, scheduled for October 10,  but "it is our duty to vote" even if thae change is "minimal and marginal" says Rihan Hanna Ayoub, a 37 year old Christian MP from the constituency of Kirkuk.

Speaking to AsiaNews, she confirms that "the scenario will remain unchanged" even after the vote and there will be no "marked progress in a positive sense" in the daily life of a people for too long "miserable. Even today among voters there is little knowledge of the programs of the various parties, while a general climate of distrust and disinterest in a ruling class on which hangs the accusation of incompetence and corruption. 

The governament dissolved parliament and called early elections in response to the protests that broke out in the fall of 2019 against high prices, unemployment, corruption and the collapse of public service.

Nearly 25 million people are eligible to vote, called to choose the 329 deputies of the unicameral parliament from 3,200 candidates spread across 83 constituencies. The vote, initially scheduled for June, was later postponed to October 10 due to organizational and security problems.

The quorum for the formation of the new government is set at 165. The newly elected Chamber will then be called upon to elect the President and the Prime Minister. 25% of parliamentary seats are reserved for women, but representation, political weight and presence within the highest offices of the State is still very limited.

Rihan Hanna Ayoub confirms  - in Iraq women are still deprived of participation in the decision-making process". Three years after the last round, in May 2018, several unresolved issues remain. First and foremost is the death, kidnapping or intimidation of activists and civil society members. This too is a source of discontent, especially among young people, and fuels splits.  

As far as the Christian community is concerned, according to Ayoub, "expectations are not very different from those of the whole Iraqi society" which is waiting for a "real change" to be implemented "from within the political landscape". However, he warns, this is a broader discourse and the elections in themselves "will not produce a significant evolution". However, the electoral stage remains fundamental, as the Chaldean Patriarch has recently stressed: "We reiterate the appeal [of the Cardinal] - underlines the MP - for a mass participation to guarantee the legitimacy of the vote", which must be stronger "than the mistrust in a segment of the population".

The Christian MP was born in Zakho, in Iraqi Kurdistan, and is about to conclude her first legislature. With a degree in Law from the University of Dohuk, before entering Parliament she worked as a lawyer practicing in all branches of law.

She states that "the outcomes of the electoral process will not differ much from the previous one except by changing the number of seats here and there, and this will not make a big difference and does not affect the formation of the next government, although I see that if consensus is not achieved as happened previously, the political forces will not be able to form the next government and Iraq will enter a tunnel".

In spite of this, Ayoub does not fear an "Afghan scenario" for Iraq, even though he has to keep a high alert on extremist movements: "We can count on elements of great power and strength - she underlines - thanks to which we can affirm that the country will not lose its soul, the fact that it is Iraqi deep down. Having said that, a withdrawal of international troops will have a negative impact, because it will allow outlaw groups and organizations to acquire greater power of coercion, if there are not enough forces in the field to counter them".

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