17 October 2018
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Iraq vice president says elections alone will not solve the country’s problems

Wednesday, 11 April 2018 03:22
“We don’t want an election based on sectarianism. We want an inclusive political process," said vice president Allawi in an interview with The National. Chris Whiteoak / The National “We don’t want an election based on sectarianism. We want an inclusive political process," said vice president Allawi in an interview with The National. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Iraq will not solve the crises it faces unless it maintains an inclusive political process, overcomes sectarian divisions and rids itself of foreign interference, the Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi told The National during a visit to Dubai.

On the 12th of May Iraqis will cast their votes in the first parliamentary elections since the country's victory over ISIL. However, the state is still being hindered by issues that are debilitating its democratic process and political independence.

Mr Allawi explained that foreign intrusions in Iraq are obstructing efforts to bridge the sectarian divide and stressed that the country’s political process must be based on a common national identity.

“We don’t want an election based on sectarianism. We want an inclusive political process," he said. "However, the environment in Iraq is very sectarian, rigid and intimidating, with armed militias on the rise and the disenfranchisement of people continues.”

For years Iraq has been caught up in the region's sectarian divisions. But tensions were further exacerbated when Tehran leveraged its ties with Iraq's Shia majority and emerged as the country's major foreign power broker.

Mr Allawi says he advised the Iranian ambassador in Iraq that he shouldn’t encourage his government to meddle in the country’s internal affairs. “We know that there are senior Iranians based in Iraq that have an internal influence. This is not healthy, I speak to most leaders of the Shiite and Sunni blocs, they don’t want to see any foreign government getting involved.”

In addition to external meddling, Mr Allawi cites problematic institutions, poverty, security and terrorism as key factors behind Iraq's political failure. "There needs to be a rectified process that is not based on decisions taken in Tehran or Washington or anywhere else,” he said.

In the 2010 elections, Mr Allawi won more seats than Nouri Al Maliki - his fiercest competitor and close ally of Iran - but fell short of a majority. He accuses Iran of blocking his bid to become prime minister.

However, added the 73-year-old vice president, he doesn’t “harbour any animosity towards Iran or the neighbouring states” but instead urges the international community to “let Iraqis choose their leaders and representatives.”

Tehran denies any interference in Iraqi politics and says it has only provided military assistance to Shiite paramilitary groups in their fight against ISIL.

But with ISIL defeated , the future role of the militias presents a challenge for the central government, as many Iraqis voice concern over the participation of pro-Iranian movements in the elections.

Mr Allawi pointed out that the militias, also known as Hashed Al Shaabi, present two troubling elements.

One, he explains, is that "they have become a legal entity in the state and the other is the unknown - what they are doing, and the fact that they are intimidating and harassing people.”

Source: The National

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