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Senior Iraqi lawmaker slams UNAMI chief over 'interference' in legislative vote results

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The leader of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in Iraq’s parliament, Hadi al-Amiri (R), meets with the European Union's ambassador to Iraq, Ville Varjola, at his office in Baghdad, Iraq, on November 24, 2021. (Photo by al-Sumaria television network)

The leader of the Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in Iraq’s parliament has blasted the head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Antoinette Plasschaert, over what he described as her interference in the October 10 parliamentary elections.

“We have had great cooperation and good relationship with the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, and believe in its positive role. Our confidence has, however, started to erode in the wake of violations committed by the current head of the mission. She has got in the way of elections process and results as if she is the head of the [Independent High] Electoral Commission,” the Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network quoted Hadi al-Amiri as saying.

“Iraq has not accepted and will not accept any such representative. She must stand committed to her primary duties,” he noted.

Amiri made the remarks during a meeting with the European Union's ambassador to Iraq, Ville Varjola, at his office in Baghdad on Wednesday.

The senior Iraqi legislator voiced grave concern over attempts to derail the path of democratic governance, transparent elections and peaceful transfer of power in the Arab country.

He said ongoing demonstrations and sit-ins in Iraq over “fraud” at recent parliamentary elections are the most peaceful and orderly protests since 2003.

Varjola, for his part, hailed the technical and technological management of recent Iraqi election, but urged authorities to seriously address complaints about vote rigging. 

“All complaints should be seriously dealt with, and all legal procedures should be facilitated. Iraq’s stability is very important for European countries,” he pointed out.

On November 13, Amiri said he was confident that last month’s parliamentary elections had been rigged, stressing that the possibility of interference by the Israeli regime cannot be ruled out.

There is “certainty” that electoral fraud occurred, the Iraqi al-Ayyam website quoted him as saying.

Amiri had said he believed voter fraud and irregularities took place via a cyber attack involving Israel.

“The election fraud was carried out via the cyberspace and its goal was to infiltrate Iraq ...and we do not rule out interference by the Zionist regime,” he stated.

There have been tensions in the Iraqi capital and a number of major cities since the Iraqi parliamentary elections on October 10, with several political factions and their supporters rejecting the results as fraudulent.

Earlier this month, security forces attacked protesters in Baghdad, who were demanding a manual recount of the votes cast in the elections.

According to the Iraqi Health Ministry, 125 people were injured during the clashes. Some reports said up to three people were killed as well.

A total of 329 seats were up for grabs in the election. More than 3,240 candidates were running, including 950 women.

Influential cleric Muqtada Sadr’s Sairoon coalition won more than 70 seats, which, if confirmed, could give him considerable influence in forming a government.

The elections were originally planned to be held in 2022, but the date was brought forward in response to a mass protest movement that broke out in 2019 to call for economic reforms, better public services, and an effective fight against unemployment and corruption in state institutions.

The vote also took place under a new election law that divided Iraq into smaller constituencies – another demand of the protesters – and allowed for more independent candidates.

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