By Ali Rawaf
An Iraqi court issued a warrant for the arrest of the president of the Iraqi High Electoral Commission, Faraj Al-Haidary for alleged bonuses that were awarded to some of the Commission personnel. The warrant states that he will be in custody for a 3 day-investigation.
Ever since the March 2010 election results were announced, declaring Maliki’s rival political bloc the winner, the PM and his partly started a campaign against the Electoral Commission, claiming that his president and staff collaborated with winning bloc.
Soon after securing a second term, Maliki sought an order from the High Court to enlist the Electoral Commission and other independent bodies under the authority of the PM’s office. The move infuriated several political parties and later, even though the Court ruled in the Maliki’s favor, it later clarified that no entity has authority over the independent bodies such as the Central Bank and the Electoral Commission. The Court clarification came after there was an outrage by Parliament and the heads of political parties over what was clearly a violation of a constitutional article.
Two months later, the PM’s party in Parliament, State of Law called for the investigation of the president of the Electoral Commission and his Deputy over fraud allegations. The rest of the parliament saw how politicized the questioning was by the State of Law members and called to end the investigation. A couple of months later, the State of Law bloc returned and called for the disbanding of the current Electoral Commission and replace it with new staff.
This move along with a series of actions taken by the PM and his party are alarming. After the US withdrawal from Iraq, the PM got the High Court to issue an arrest warrant against the Sunni Vice President, Tareq Al-Hashimi and asked parliament to vote his Sunni Deputy, Salih Al-Mutlaq out of his post. While the effort to oust the latter failed, the former is currently called a fugitive VP in the news and his office staff and body guards are under arrest. Recently, the VP said three of his body guards died in prison because of torture. The moves have been regarded as reasons for the new escalation in sectarian tensions and violence in Iraq.
I regard them as a serious threat to our fragile and diminishing democracy.