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ICC Note: Iraq’s contested elections in May thrust the country into further instability. Militias and tribes have sought to fill the ever increasing power vacuum, a situation which has left the Christian community increasingly worried. For this reason, Christian political leaders are attempting to legislate a law that would return properties stolen from Christians between the years 2006-2010. It is hoped that enacting such a law would set precedent for the return of properties stolen during the current period while discouraging militias and parties from continuing to engage in such activities.    

06/29/2018 Iraq (The New Arab) – Muqtada al-Sadr, the winner of last month’s heavily boycotted elections, has declared formal agreements with electoral blocs represented by outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and hardline Shia Islamist militants led by Hadi al-Amiri, a pro-Iran candidate.

The deals being cut by the three largest blocs come against a backdrop of the continuing allegations of voter fraud, causing consternation and concern among those Iraqis who did turn out to vote.

Iraq’s deteriorating and unstable political situation is also reflected in its spiralling security problems, as the Islamic State extremist group has begun daring raids against territories it held just a short while ago, kidnapping and executing hostages as they go.

Not helping matters is an increase in violence from Iranian proxy militias, who have not only been clashing with local police, but are also being accused of forcing their control over properties owned by Iraq’s Christian population, who have suffered extensive loss of life and property since Shia and Sunni extremists began targeting them following the downfall of the Baathist regime in 2003.

Iraq’s highest court last week ruled in favour of an entire recount of May’s election results, after it emerged that a number of electronic voting systems were compromised, and other discrepancies led to significant doubts about the real outcome of the vote.

The ruling follows the outgoing parliament’s decision earlier this month for a full manual recount, which was challenged in court by some lawmakers and political parties as an unconstitutional decision intended to protect current parliamentarians from losing their jobs by casting doubt on the results.

The court ruled that parliament’s decision was not unconstitutional.

However, the court later had its ruling moderated by the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), which decided on Sunday to manually recount only “suspect” ballots.

The IHEC itself was sacked by parliament following the May 12 election, and replaced with a judicial panel. In effect, the judiciary will be deciding the outcome of the elections, and to what extent ballots will be recounted.

This poses certain problems, as the judiciary is being asked to make rulings that determine how another judiciary-run body, the IHEC, can proceed.

If the IHEC decides to proceed slightly differently, the courts are unlikely to intervene against their own, particularly in a heavily politicised judicial branch as exists in Iraq.

This is precisely what is happening, as the supreme court has ruled one way, and has been contradicted without objection by the IHEC only days later.

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