Iraq's election commission resigns en masse, April 30 polls in jeopardy
The entire board of Iraq's electoral commissioned resigned Tuesday in protest of what they have described as "political and judicial interference," according to Agence France Presse.
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) board, comprised of nine members, cited conflicting rulings between the country's parliament and its judiciary on the barring of potential candidates from running in the election as the root reason behind their decision to quit.
"The commission is today caught between two authorities -- the legislative and the judicial -- and the two have issued contradictory decisions. "We are stuck in the middle, so we have decided to resign, and we are waiting for the chairman's approval." IHEC spokesman Safa Al Mussawi told AFP.
"They [the board] are very frustrated with this judicial panel for the elections... excluding candidates," a diplomatic source said on condition of anonymity.
However, the resignations still need to be approved by Iraq's parliament, according to the diplomatic source.
Candidates have been barred from running for election in recent weeks on the basis of their potential ties to former dictator Saddam Hussein's Baath party. Others have been barred under a clause in Iraq's electoral law that requires candidates to "be of good reputation." Vague interpretations of the judicial law have prevented Former Finance minister Rafa Al Essawi who is a Maliki opponent, from participating in the election, for example.
However, Parliament on the other hand has ruled that IHEC must not bar any candidates unless they have a criminal record.
The contradiction between the two policies has left the IHEC in disarray, and the upcoming April 30 elections at a critical juncture.
The upcoming elections are projected to be a critical turning point for Iraq, particularly in light of growing sectarian violence rampaging throughout the country.
Shiite Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki's candidacy for a third term has often been cited for the rising bloodshed.