11/27/2009, 00.00
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Date for Iraqi elections still uncertain

by Layla Yousif Rahema
UN and U.S. at work to ensure there is no new veto by the vice president. Sunnis unhappy because of the Kurdish victories. Even political alliances are in flux. Maybe the vote will be in February. Fears for an ethnic-religious division of the country.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - For many Iraqis the delay of the elections is already a certainty, while UN officials and those of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad are trying to convince the Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi not to veto the electoral law a second time, the text of which has been amended recently by Parliament. They try to avoid a postponement of the vote beyond January, which would also include a postponement of the plan of gradual military disengagement by Washington, one of the pillars of President Obama’s foreign policy.

Diplomacy is searching for a compromise which – while not changing the law reached on 8 November after exhausting negotiations - will accept the objections of Sunni Deputy Head of State. But now, even if the impasse is overcome and presidential ratification won, more time will be needed to organize the elections scheduled for mid January, as was pointed out by the very president of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (Ihec), Faraj al-Haidari, who has already suspended all preparations: "I think it will be very difficult to hold elections in January. Most probably they will be moved to February. "

The internal strife in the Iraqi Parliament runs deep, but today in particular the recent amendments to the electoral law predominate. Hashimi is unhappy that his demand for fair representation for Iraqi expatriates has found no space in the text. The Sunnis are furious because they see a disadvantage in favour of the Kurds, the only real "winners" in this political tug of war. After threats to boycott the elections, the Kurds have achieved a greater number of seats for the three provinces making up its semiautonomous region to the detriment of the Sunni majority. In particular, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Kirkuk as well. Usama al Nujaifi, brother of the governor of Nineveh province, speaks of a "serious constitutional violation, a way to steal seats in the Sunni provinces of North and give them to those of Kurdistan." In this there are some who see in the attack yesterday against St. Ephrem Church in Mosul, not the hand of religious fundamentalism, but 'political interests to control the territory ahead of elections. "

Political alliances are also still developing. Hashimi said on Wednesday it will enter into a broad coalition (at least 14 parties of different nature) led by prominent leaders, many of them linked to the defunct Baath party of Saddam. In the lead is the former Shiite Prime Minister Iyad Allawi an ultra secularist. The "election docket" will be officially announced in a few days, but Hashimi has already indicated that this list is best for the future of Iraq, as its leaders all believe in the unity of Iraqi soil, reject confessionalism and have faith in the Arabic nature of the Iraqi homeland. "  

Beyond rhetoric, however, to judge from the increasingly suffered electoral process, many Iraqis are now convinced that "the risk of reaching the territorial division of the country on ethnic and sectarian lines is always more concrete"

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See also
Shadow of Tehran and Washington hangs over Iraqi elections
Provincial elections: al Maliki triumphs in Baghdad and Basra. Anbar goes to tribal Sunnis
All parties in Iraq set for the vote
Baghdad announces new safety rules, but attacks continue
Iraq, 62,000 public employees fired on corruption charges


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