JEDDAH/BAGHDAD: Iraq’s Supreme Court on Monday ratified the results of the parliamentary election in October, paving the way for the formation of a new government.
The court threw out a series of legal challenges to the results by Fatah, the political bloc representing the Iran-backed Hashd Al-Shaabi armed factions, who performed poorly in the election — slumping to only 17 seats from 48 in 2018.
Chief Judge Jassim Mohammed said objections to the result threatened to undermine the value of the vote, weaken voters’ confidence and derail the political process. The ruling was final and binding on everyone, he said.
“The most important thing about the verdict is that the judiciary did not bow to pressure from the losing parties,” Iraqi analyst Ihsan Al-Shamari said. The new parliament should amend the electoral law and enable manual counting of ballots to protect the credibility and transparency of future elections, he said.
Fatah leader Hadi Al-Ameri said he remained convinced that “the electoral process was tainted by fraud and manipulation,” but he accepted the court’s verdict.
The ruling sets the stage for negotiations to replace the government of Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi. Under Iraq’s constitution, President Barham Salih should now call the new parliament into session within 15 days.
The main winner of the election was the influential Shiite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, whose bloc won 73 of parliament’s 329 seats, placing him in pole position to choose the new prime minister. Sadr has said he will ally himself with whoever puts Iraq’s national interests first, and restores effective public services. Iraqi officials and Western diplomats say that means he may exclude some Iran-backed Shiite groups in favor of parties with cross-sectarian support.
The October election took place earlier than scheduled in response to huge street demonstrations two years ago against corruption and foreign influence, which were violently repressed by security forces backed by the Hashd Al-Shaabi.