A free, fair and properly supervised election in January is absolutely vital for our country's young democracy and the wider region. As has been witnessed in Afghanistan, failure to ensure a free vote is too damaging to imagine.
Ayad Jamal Aldin MP
The above is one of the letters to the editors of the Guardian, that one by a member of Iraq's Parliament. MP Ayad Jamal Aldin is running for re-election and promises, at his website, "A better life for Iraqi families" via three steps:
* 1 million new jobs, especially for our young
* Make the electricity system work within 2 years
* Major upgrades to deliver running water
His campaign's most recent posting was on the elections:
Ayad Jamal Aldin MP, the leader of the Ahrar Party in Iraq has today warned about the possibility of election fraud at Iraq's upcoming national election and called on the United Nations to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces, unaligned and unbeholden to existing factions in Baghdad.
In open letters sent to United States President Barack Obama, Secretary General of the United Nations Ban-Ki Moon, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador Thomas Mayr-Harting, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations and current Chair of the United Nations Security Council, Mr Aldin MP expresses concern over the politicisation of Iraq's Electoral Commission and questions whether 'free and fair' elections will take place in Iraq next January.
In his letter Mr Aldin MP says: "Since our last election in 2005, various political factions have manoeuvred their supporters onto the Iraqi Electoral Commission in order to ensure a favourable result for themselves in January's election. The pattern is identical to that seen in Afghanistan. I urge you to request that the Security Council instructs the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq to replace Iraq's Electoral Commission with fresh faces unaligned and unbeholden to the factions in Baghdad. This could take place immediately, with no disruption to the political process, and would give the best possible chance of a fair vote in January."
Yesterday's snapshot included the following on the election law:
While the violence continues, there's still no election law. Today Alsumaria reports, "Iraq High Election Commission gave the parliament a timeline that ends on Thursday in order to enact an elections' law or else it will not be able to hold elections as it is scheduled on January 16. Chief of IHEC Faraj Al Haidari said that the commission and the UN discussed elections' timeline and stressed that if he did not receive the law in the two upcoming days the commission won't be able to hold the elections on the scheduled date." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) adds, "The election commission said if parliament doesn't approve a law by the end of Thursday, it will be impossible to hold the polls as scheduled on Jan. 16 because there won't be enough time to organize it. In meetings earlier this week, United Nations officials also told lawmakers if a law isn't passed by Thursday, the U.N. would urge postponement of the elections." The Iraqi Constitution mandates that the elections must be held before the end of January 2010; however, the Iraqi Constitution mandates many things -- such as resolving the issue of Kirkuk or appointing a full cabinet by X date or requiring Parliament's approval to extend a United Nations mandate -- and Nouri's always managed to just ignore it.
Big surprise, nothing. No election law today. Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) reports that Parliament finished today's session (Thursday's session) "without agreeing" to any election law. Nothing has been passed.
From Liz Sly's "U.S. keeps a low profile ahead of Iraq elections" (Los Angeles Times):
As Iraqi lawmakers repeatedly miss deadlines for writing the new law urgently needed for elections to go ahead in January -- and for U.S. troops to go home -- America's diminishing role in the political process is very much in evidence.
Back in 2005, when Iraq's democracy was being formed, it was common for legislators to meet into the small hours of the morning in the presence of U.S. officials, who shuttled between the feuding camps, mediating disputes and pressuring them to stick to the timetable for a new constitution and for elections to be held.
Four years later, elections are due to be held again, and the original deadline for the new law came and went three weeks ago, putting at risk the Jan. 16 vote and potentially delaying the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. combat forces next year.
This time around, U.S. diplomats have adopted a noticeably lower profile, ceding the lead mediation role to the United Nations and emphasizing the need for Iraqis to solve their own problems.
Nick Baumann and Mother Jones grasp that the Iraq War has not ended and offer "We're Still at War: Photo of the Day for November 5, 2009" while Josh Rogin's "Exclusive: Did the U.S. government buy favorable coverage of Iraq’s Anbar Province?" (Foreign Policy) reminds that a lot of money has gone into the sinkhole that is the illegal war and for a lot of questionable activities:
U.S. taxpayer money that was supposed to be used for emergency purposes in Iraq was spent to buy a special advertising issue for an Anbar businessman in a British trade magazine, a U.S. government investigation has found.
FDI magazine, a bimonthly print publication and website owned by the Financial Times, nearly simultaneously showered Anbar Governor Qasim Abid Muhammad Hammadi Al Fahadawi with positive coverage, praising the dangerous Anbar province as "a hot place to invest in" and giving the businessman an award as "Global Personality of the Year for 2009."
FDI's award was announced three days before the "Special Report" on Anbar, entitled, "Bridge to the Future," was published on its website. The award was immediately praised by the U.S. military in Iraq, without mention of the U.S. funds spent on the supplement, and the website makes no mention of it having been paid for by the American government. Then again last month, FDI magazine Editor Courtney Fingar handed the governor another award naming Anbar province one of FDI magazine's "standout regions of the year."
Reached by The Cable, Fingar confirmed the U.S. government had spent "in the neighborhood of $50,000" on the special supplement but denied her magazine's content had been bought and paid for, calling the report on Anbar "balanced and accurate."
The investigation was disclosed in the October quarterly report of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction (SIGIR), which is tasked with monitoring U.S. expenditures and projects in Iraq, but has so far not been publicly reported. Sources told The Cable that after the report is submitted to Congress, it's up to that body to determine if the payment violated funding rules or the law.
There was a reason Congress repeatedly questioned the lack of accountability with regards to CERP funds and don't be surprised if Rogin's report doesn't lead to a new round of questions, possibly today.
With Aimee Allison, David Solnit authored the must read Army Of None. David Solnit has now teamed up with his sister Rebecca Solnit, of Courage to Resist, for a new book and there's a new action.
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