EU observers give generally positive assessment of Iraq parliamentary election, identify some serious flaws

EU Election Observation Mission press conference in Baghdad (NRT Digital Media/Screenshot)

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SULAIMANI — Giving a generally positive but at times critical assessment of Iraq’s early parliamentary election, the European Union Election Observation Mission for Iraq released its preliminary findings at a press conference in Baghdad on Tuesday (October 12), two days after voters cast their ballots.

The Mission "assesses, that the early 2021 parliamentary elections were technically well-managed; they were competitive and a largely calm campaign enabled voters to make an informed choice,” said EU EOM Chief Observer Viola von Cramon.

Nevertheless, von Cramon noted a number of dynamics that negatively affected campaigning and voting, including a lack of reliable population data to back up voter registration data, some technical and informational problems on the part of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), and the role of traditional and social media.

She also discussed the negative role played by candidate and voter intimidation, noting that women candidates were targeted by threats in particular.

"Iraq held a very peaceful election day. There should be no space for violence in the post-election period. Voters should be safe now and in the future,” she said.

Von Cramon also said that "freedom of the media and freedom of expression were not safeguarded during the campaign."

In her remarks, she alluded to the specific cases of Sherwan Sherwani, Guhdar Zebari, and Ayaz Karam in the Kurdistan Region, who were sentenced earlier this year to six years in prison by a court in Erbil, saying that it "negatively impacted the campaign.”

The EU Electoral Observation Mission will release its full findings in two months, including a set of recommended changes to improve the electoral process.

Last week, von Cramon told NRT that it was up to the Iraqi authorities to implement those suggestions.

(NRT Digital Media)