Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Mosul Campaigners Brave Dangers

By an IWPR-trained reporter in Mosul (ICR No. 282, 29-Jan-09)
The security situation in Mosul is volatile, yet in many ways campaigning here resembles other parts of Iraq.

Parties and coalitions are passing out pens, hats and other paraphernalia promoting their lists. Posters are plastered on buildings, and coalitions are holding rallies despite threats of violence.

But Sunni Arab leaders have been killed here since campaigning began last year, and there are serious concerns about attacks on candidates and at polling centres on election day. Al-Qaeda's Iraqi wing and Sunni insurgents are seen as the main threats.

Earlier this month, five political blocs demanded that the central government increase security at polling stations in areas controlled by Kurdish forces. Several political blocs challenging the Kurds have accused Kurdish security of interfering in past elections in Nineveh, an accusation that Kurdish leaders strongly deny.

A record number of voters are expected to turn out despite the security concerns. Some voters said they stayed away from past polls because they were concerned about election-related violence or were observing the Sunni Arab boycott of the polls.

This time, senior Iraqi leaders are campaigning for their local allies in Mosul. Sunni Arab parties are using rallies to galvanise their base and gain seats on the Kurdish-dominated provincial council.

Tribes are also holding rallies to drum up support for candidates. The top issues for voters in this ethnically and religiously diverse province are security, services, the economy and education – but many are also expected to vote along ethnic and sectarian lines.

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