Iraq’s Moqtada Al Sadr says new electoral reforms will remove 'corrupt parties'

Iraq’s Moqtada Al Sadr says new electoral reforms will remove 'corrupt parties'
Iraq’s Moqtada Al Sadr says new electoral reforms will remove 'corrupt parties'

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr said the passing of a new electoral law will get rid of ‘corrupt parties’ despite its failure to calm public outrage.

The country has been rocked by anti-government protests that accuse the ruling establishment of fuelling endemic corruption and kept millions of people living in poverty.

More than 450 people have been killed and thousands injured since the movement started on October 1.

If the same parties remain in power and use the threat of violence to rule then a new election law is redundant in protesters' eyes

Sajad Jiyad

“The passing of law is a demand of the people and we are patiently waiting for the electoral commission to be truly independent," Mr Al Sadr said late on Tuesday.

The development will allow voters to elect individual politicians instead of choosing from party lists.

In addition, each member of parliament will get to represent a specific electoral district instead of groups of legislators

But the amendments alone cannot please the protesters.

“If the same parties remain in power and use the threat of violence to rule then a new election law is redundant in protesters' eyes,” said Sajad Jiyad, the managing director of the Bayan Center, an Iraq-based think tank.

Although the passing of the new election law is seen as a "positive step" it needs further legislation to fully support it, an Iraqi official, who choose to remain anonymous, told The National.

"There needs to be laws that monitor and review the financial spending of the political parties, this needs to be done under the UN's supervision," he said, adding "otherwise corruption will continue".

Protesters have demanded not just a new electoral law, but also the removal of the entire ruling elite seen as enriching itself off the state and serving foreign powers, above all Iran, as many Iraqis languish in poverty without jobs, healthcare or education, and an independent premier with no party affiliation.

Demonstrations were held on Tuesday night in several southern provinces, with many still determined to enact real political changes in the country.

Protesters marched in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, Nasiriryah and Basra chanting, “the parliament’s largest bloc has demonstrator’s blood on its hands”.

In Dwianiyah, demonstrators torched political party’s office. People set fire to the headquarters of the ruling Dawa Party and the Badr Organisation whose leaders are all vying to form the next government.

They also burnt the office of the Shiite militia group Asaib Ahl Al Haq.

Updated: December 25, 2019 01:06 PM

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