Through Friday, Iraq Body Count notes 585 violent deaths for the month thus far. Saturday's violence? National Iraqi News Agency notes a Rifal roadside bombing left two people injured, a Baghdad home invasion left 1 man dead and his wife injured, 1 Ministry of Communications employee was shot dead while driving his car in Baghdad, 1 hardware store owner was shot dead in Baghdad and two Sahwa were left injured, a Haswah roadside bombing left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and a second injured, an armed clash in Mansour left 1 police officer dead and another injured, and a Talafar car bombing left 4 people dead and fourteen more injured. Xinua notes a Tuz Khurmatu suicide car bomber and roadside bombing claimed the lives of 12 people (13, if you add in the car bomber) and left seventy-two people injured. That's 22 reported deaths and 93 reported injured. In addition, Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) reports 4 prisoners escaped from a Baghdad prison. All Iraq News identifies the prison as al-Husseinia Prison.
Since December 21st, protests have been taking place in Iraq. Kirkuk Now reports that the arrests of protesters is an issue protest organizers are gathering names of those being held. Ismail al-Hadidi is quoted stating that they "are giving the information to the families of the arrested individuals who are not yet released." Alsumaria has a must see photo of Friday's protest in Ramadi where the arbitrary arrests were denounced. This is a huge crowd. Amar al-Ani (Alsumaria) reports on the Sunday protest in Basra where reporters were the ones protesting. They are now being banned by the government from photographing schools. The reporters say the censorship is an attempt to cover up government failures.
Meanwhile, Alsumaria notes that Nouri's media mouthpiece, Ali al-Moussawi, is stating that the closure of Sunni mosques on Friday is fueling tensions. The mosques were closed down because Nouri refuses to provide protection. And Nouri's sudden concern over Sunni tensions is touching. Where was it on Thursday when, as All Iraq News reported, Nouri fired Abdul Ghafour al-Samarai who headed the Sunni Endowment and he fired Riyadh al-Taai who was the inspector general for the Sunni Endowment? Nouri's concern is like a sudden rash. And it will probably fade as quickly as it surfaced.
Politics? MP Susan Said can be happy. She's called all week for Parliament to hold a hearing about the ongoing flooding. Al Mada reports that Saturday it was announced that an emergency hearing would be held this coming Thursday. That's this Thursday. Iraqi News notes that this past Thursday saw Najaf's Provincial Council declare the province a disaster area due to the flooding. The flooding is due to rains, yes, but the standing water is due to a decaying sewage system and Nouri's refusal to spend money on public works programs that would improve the basic services in Iraq. All Iraq News notes that city ministers and provincial governors are expected to attend the hearing.
Politics also means elections. Iraq will supposedly hold provincial elections April 30th. Mustafa Habib (Niqash) explains why those elections are currently iffy:
Iraqi politicians had only just finished congratulating themselves on passing a long delayed electoral law when the criticism started. The law has more holes than Swiss cheese, opponents say, and may delay 2014 elections for over a year. Additionally this “law” isn’t really a law at all. So why was it passed in the first place?
After months of delay and debate, the Iraqi Parliament finally managed to pass the essential piece of legislation needed in order to hold general elections early next year. But even as MPs were proudly announcing the most likely date for elections – April 30, 2014 – doubts were being cast as to its legality and whether it would hold up in the face of legal protests.
Only a few hours after it was passed, the legislation was already being questioned. Critics included MPs, civil society organisations and experts on election law, all of whom came up with a number of serious legal and constitutional issues that would make it easy to challenge the new legislation in Iraq’s highest court, the Supreme Federal Court.
Which means that the major political blocs, who reached a consensus in passing it, according to the Speaker of the House, MP Osama al-Nujaifi, a senior MP in the Sunni-Muslim-dominated Iraqiya opposition party, will have to stay anxious about their law until the date of the elections.
“Challenging this law will have lots of repercussions for Iraq,” al-Nujaifi warned.
One of the main objections to the new law is that it violates Article 47 of the Iraqi Constitution. This says: “The Council of Representatives shall consist of a number of members, at a ratio of one representative per 100,000 Iraqi persons. … The representation of all components of the people in it shall be upheld”.
According to the latest official data on Iraq’s population, that means there should be 351 MPs. However the new election law specifies only 328 seats – that’s only three more than in the current Parliament. And the seats are supposed to be allocated as follows: 310 seats for all of Iraq’s provinces, then another ten seats for the major lists – three for Iraqi Kurdistan, four for the Shiite Muslim provinces, one for Sunni Muslim provinces and two for mixed Sunni-Shiite Muslim provinces – and then another eight seats as quotas for Iraq’s minorities.
This apparently random distribution has upset a lot of interested parties already, including provincial administrators and minority spokespeople.
Al Rafidayn reports that the Independent High Electoral Commission has announced 250 political groups have filed applications to compete in the elections. The IHEC opened voter registration centers November 7th. All Iraq News notes that MP Imad Yokhana is calling for "Christians to update their voting records to ensure their active participation in the upcoming elections." Iraqi News adds that KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has sent a letter to the IHEC noting that the KRG accepts the April 30th date for elections. All Iraq News notes that MP Safiya al-Suhail has expressed herself to the IHEC as well. She wants all candidates backgrounds checked for criminal records to determine whether they are "wanted individuals or fugitives." On the backgrounds of candidates, Wednesday, the Iraq Times reported that there were charges that Iraqi politicians were buying fake degrees from a college in the Netherlands.
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