Following demos, parliament committee says will reform electoral commission

Iraqi parliament.

Baghdad ( An Iraqi parliament committee responsible for forming the country’s electoral commission said Sunday it was going to make a new formation of the commission after deadly protests opposed to the panel.

Anadolu Agency quoted Aram Sheikh Mohamed, chairman of the experts committee, as saying that his panel was going to form a new electoral commission. Mohamed, who is also deputy parliament speaker, said the panel convened to discuss selections for the commission’s membership, bylaws and timetables for new candidates.

His announcement comes hours after protests by supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad on Saturday criticized the commission as corrupt and politically-influenced. The demonstrations turned violent when missiles landed near the heavily-fortified Green Zone, the home of government buildings, embassies and international institutions. The Interior Ministry said five protesters died in clashes with security, and earlier reports said one policeman was killed.

Officials from the commission had said they received threats via social networks, and its office in Basra became under heavy gunfire late Saturday.

Steep political divisions and disagreements among Iraq’s sectarian-influenced political groups had caused municipal polls to be postponed to 2018 instead of this April, thus to coincide with legislative elections.

Al-Sadr had championed massive anti-corruption protests against the government of Nouri al-Maliki in 2014, and has advocated technocratic appointments away from partisan considerations. He has denounceed the electoral commission as corrupt and under the influence of Maliki. Opponents to the electoral law say it fails to include all of Iraq’s political and social stripes, and instead give better chances to bigger political groups.

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