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EU sends election observation mission to Iraq
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 13 - 09 - 2021

The European Union Monday announced that it has deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM) to observe the legislative elections scheduled in Iraq for Oct. 10.
The core team of the EU EOM consists of 12 election experts who arrived in Baghdad and Irbil on Aug. 28. In mid-September, 20 long-term observers will join the mission and will be deployed in different areas of the country, said the European External Action Service, the EU's diplomatic arm, in a press release Monday.
During election day, the mission will be reinforced with local short-term observers coming from EU member states' diplomatic missions present in Iraq. The EU EOM will remain in the country until the completion of the electoral process, it noted.
EU High Representative, Josep Borrell, has appointed Ms. Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, member of the European Parliament from Germany, as chief observer of this EU Electoral Observation Mission.
"I am glad that responding to Iraq's request, the European Union will deploy its first ever Election Observation Mission to the country. I just visited Iraq and discussed the importance of these polls," he said in a statement.
"Our observation mission is a clear manifestation of solidarity and support to the Iraqi people and of our solid partnership with Iraq," he added.
On her part, Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel said: "I am proud to have been appointed chief observer of the EU EOM for the Iraqi elections in October. These polls will be an important milestone in Iraq's democratic build-up."
The United Nations too earlier said they will deploy observers to monitor Iraq's parliamentary election next month, while hoping voting will not be tainted by fraud and abstention.
The UN's top representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, told a separate news conference the world body would also deploy a large monitoring team.
"In fact this is one of the UN's largest electoral assistance projects worldwide with five times as many UN personnel as in 2018," she said.
Hennis-Plasschaert urged Iraqis not to boycott the vote, which she hoped would be "credible", and called on "political forces and candidates to collectively refrain from any attempt to force or distort election resources".
Past elections in Iraq have been marred by violence and vote-buying. In the most recent legislative election in 2018, the turnout was 44.52 percent, an official figure that many believe was inflated.
Calls to boycott the vote have increased as the election draws closer, especially among young people who accuse political parties in Iraq of covering up and even encouraging political violence.
Borrell said that everyone in the country demands elections, "but when we organize elections, the people say that elections are not good". "Our focus is try to help the electoral process be as good as possible," he said.
An early general election was one of the promises made by Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhemi to try to meet the demands of the demonstrators.
A new electoral law also came into force last year, its aim being to break the monopoly held by blocs of parties that share power, and promote independent candidates instead. — Agencies

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