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Army Accused of Campaigning in Mosul

Election commission files complaint over army’s alleged support for prime minister’s coalition.
By Jarir Mohammed
Iraq’s election commission has filed a complaint with the defence ministry over alleged campaigning by soldiers on behalf Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition in the turbulent city of Mosul.



Iraqi High Electoral Commission, IHEC, spokesman Jasim Mohammed claimed that soldiers have distributed State of Law flyers in violation of campaign rules ahead of the nationwide March 7 parliamentary vote. As premier, Maliki also serves as commander-in-chief of the Iraqi army.



The commission filed a complaint with the Iraqi army’s Mosul operations command, Mohammed said.



Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province, has been a centre of the Sunni-led insurgency since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003.



Coalitions and candidates are running tough campaigns for Nineveh’s 31 seats. The province had 19 seats in the previous parliament.



Last week, 12 political parties and coalitions held a conference to protest the army’s alleged campaigning on behalf Maliki’s coalition.



The groups filed complaints with Nineveh’s provincial council, the governor’s office and the elections commission, said Dilshad al-Zibari, a senior member of the Sunni Arab-led Al-Hadba list, which controls Mosul’s provincial council. He claimed State of Law’s posters were hanging in areas that were protected by soldiers.



Younish Mohammed, who was hired to hang campaign posters for a Mosul candidate with Iraqiya, a State of Law rival, said soldiers had instructed him and other Iraqiya campaign workers not to post banners in certain areas.



Subbhi Younis, a retired civil servant in Mosul, said he witnessed soldiers tearing up pictures of rival candidates and plastering Maliki’s posters on buildings.



Yassir al-Qitabi, a candidate with the State of Law list, told IWPR that the coalition “has not instructed the army to get involved in our campaign, and we reject this strategy”.



Defence ministry spokesman Mohammed al-Askari told IWPR that the military “has not taken part in any campaigning for [the] State of Law list or any other list. These are false accusations.



“We call on all political entities to keep the security forces out of their [political] rifts because this could harm national security.”



Jarir Mohammed is an IWPR-trained journalist in Mosul.