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

Samawa Shias Criticise Election

By Hussein Ali al-Yasiry in Samawa (ICR No. 103, 27-Jan-05)

Voters interviewed by IWPR cited confusion over the way the election has been organised, and frustration with the secrecy surrounding candidate lists. Others say the presence of foreign forces in Iraq will keep them from visiting polling stations in the city, which lies 270 kilometres to the south of Baghdad.

University employee Muhssin Ahmed said he simply does not know enough about the candidates on most lists, and criticised parties that have named a few of their candidates while concealing other names on their lists.

“How can I vote for someone I don’t know?” he said. “Maybe I would reject them if I knew who they were.”

That is the dilemma Ahmed faces when looking at the various candidates that make up the United Iraqi Alliance, a list created by the country’s leading Shia parties.

“I want to vote for the United Iraqi Alliance, because I want to vote for [Iraqi vice-president and Dawa party spokesman] Ibrahim al-Jaafari and [Iraqi National Congress leader] Ahmed Chalabi, but I refuse to vote for [Dawa leader] Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, so I can’t vote for the list.”

Others felt that participating in the elections would be a sign of support for the foreign troop presence in Iraq.

”I will participate when the foreign troops leave Iraq,” said student Munam Abduljabar. “At that time, I will feel free to choose.”

Science professor Qassim Muhammed, a Shia, believes that some parties have used unfair campaign tactics, singling out the United Iraqi Alliance for criticism for using images of religious leaders on campaign posters.

”I’m depressed about the exploitation of naïve people and telling them that the marjaiya [Shia clerical leadership] in Najaf supports their list. It is not fair,” he said. “It makes me disgusted.”

Hussein Ali al-Yasiry is an IWPR trainee journalist in Iraq.

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