Arrest of Election Commissioner Angers Iraq’s Politicians

15/04/2012  RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region -- Following the detention of Faraj Haidari, the head of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the office of Kurdistan Region President has described the move as “emptying democracy” and warned that “some are staging a coup in Baghdad.”Haidari, a Kurd, and Karim al-Tamimi, another senior official at IHEC, were detained by Iraqi security forces last week on charges of corruption. The arrest comes following recent tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

A statement released on Saturday in the name of a spokesperson for Kurdistan’s presidency said the detention of the two senior IHEC officials is a “clear violation and serious danger to the political process,”“The actions of some people within the establishment in Baghdad are dangerous and represent a coup against efforts to rebuild the country,” read said the statement.

The spokesperson warned that the arrest of senior IHEC officials could harm future elections.

“Some officials in the Baghdad government have decided to continue their efforts to create a strong center and move Iraq’s political process back to square one,” read the statement. “In this way, they violate the constitution upon which the new Iraq is built and all political forces have agreed on.” Haidari was a former official at the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that is led by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani. The office of the Kurdish president has called on the authorities in Baghdad to review their decision of detaining Haidari and Tamimi. It also urges Iraq’s political forces to take the threats seriously “before it reaches a higher level,”In the past several months, Kurdish and Sunni politicians have accused Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Maliki of creating a one-man rule in Baghdad and acting as an authoritarian ruler.

Haidar al-Mullah, an MP from the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya bloc MP, told AFP: “The one standing behind this is the head of the State of Law coalition (Maliki), because he wants to send a message that either the elections should be fraudulent, or he will use the authorities to get revenge on the commission. “Today, we skipped the phase when dictatorship is born, and now we moved to the phase when dictatorship is growing in the hands of the prime minister,” al-Mullah added.