Friday, Mar. 19, 2010

October 2009
Election Maneuvering

"I joined this list for the unity of Iraq and to make sure we don't go back to the bad old times."

—Popular Sunni tribal leader Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman, explaining why he agreed to be a part of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition in the upcoming elections.

Election season goes into full swing in October, starting with al-Maliki announcing that he's going to run in the next year's parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister smartly unveils a nationalist platform, consisting of the State of Law coalition that includes both his own Dawa party (a Shiite Muslim group) as well as personalities and tribal figures in all of the country's Sunni Muslim provinces. Meanwhile Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, pushes for an open-list voting system (allowing voters to select individual candidates) to try to increase turnout, putting pressure on parliament not to adopt the closed-list system they were considering, which gives voters only a choice of parties.

But despite al-Maliki trying to convince the public Iraq has turned a page on the devastating violence, two synchronized suicide car bombings in Baghdad severely damage the Justice Ministry and provincial council complexes, leaving at least 155 dead and about 500 wounded in the crowded downtown streets. It's the deadliest coordinated attack in Iraq since the summer of 2007.