The Hill: The events of recent weeks have once again proved that through grasping all the levers of state power, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is trying to influence and change the outcome of the election in his own favour.
By Struan Stevenson, MEP
The events of recent weeks have once again proved that through grasping all the levers of state power, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki is trying to influence and change the outcome of the election in his own favour.
The election is being held while he is the commander-inhief of the Armed Forces and all military and security forces are under his personal command without any legal check. For more than four years he has directly controlled the ministries of Interior, Defence, Security and Communications, in total breach of the Erbil Agreement; he has filled all key posts with his own men, and through influencing the judiciary has trampled on its independence and brought Iraqi judges under direct political control. In a similarly contemptuous and illegal move he has repeatedly refused requests to appear before the elected parliament and provide explanations for his authoritarian behaviour.
Last year, the Iraqi parliament adopted a resolution whereby none of the three key posts of prime minister, president and speaker of parliament, could be occupied by any one person for more than two consecutive 4-year terms. However, through influencing the judicial system, he declared this law unconstitutional, despite the fact that the constitution does not bestow such authority on the judicial system.
Maliki has also sought to influence the Independent Electoral Commission, rendering it submissive to his orders. In addition, there are many reports from inside Iraq that he has corruptly allocated hundreds of millions of dollars to buy votes. There are also allegations that over a million military, security and police force personnel have been issued with two polling cards, which will enable them to cast two votes each on 30th April….both for Maliki!
The election is being held while there are tens of thousands of political prisoners throughout Iraq, including many women, held in appalling conditions and accused of being terrorists; the number of executions in Iraq is second only to Iran. In addition to the general oppression throughout the country, the Sunnis, as one of the principal sections of the Iraqi population, are facing a genocidal onslaught; particularly in Sunni dominated cities like Fallujah and Ramadi, at the hands of the government. Moreover, the Sunnis, who are anti-Maliki, are suffering systematic discrimination, including the fact that the number of seats allocated to the Sunni provinces is far less than their population merits.
Meanwhile, the Iranian regime is working full force to get Maliki elected for a third time. Qasem Soleimani, the Commander of the terrorist Qods (Jerusalem) Force and one of the most powerful figures after Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is constantly visiting Iraq for this purpose. He is trying to implement this policy through fraud and getting votes for Maliki by using his Iraqi agents and by placing pressure on other political parties to agree to Maliki’s 3rd term. This is while all political parties in Iraq — Shia, Sunni or Kurd — oppose a third term.
What is unacceptable in this situation is the silence of the United States, the United Nations and the European Union. It is intolerable that they say nothing in the face of such tyranny and electoral manipulation. The only possibility for a free and fair election is for the United Nations to supervise the entire process and ensure that Maliki and his cohorts are prevented from cheating.
Stevenson is president of European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq.