Iraq

Iraq’s parliament approved a new electoral law

In a move to stem public anger and drawn-out street protests, Iraq’s parliament has approved a new electoral law, which enables the electorate to choose individual candidates instead of picking from party lists.

On Tuesday, the legislature lent its blessing to the law, which has constituted a key demand by protesters, who have been taking to the streets in the capital Baghdad and the country’s southern areas since October 1, Reuters reported.

The new law also allows each lawmaker to represent a specific electoral district instead of groups of legislators representing entire provinces.

The protests have been pressing the government to bring in reforms that would root out corruption and alleviate the country’s economic woes.

The rallies, however, soon turned violent — amid reports of foreign interference – killing hundreds of people, including members of the security forces, the Parliament’s Human Rights Commission says.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned last month amid the demonstrations, but retains the position as caretaker premier.

Political bickering at the Parliament has prevented picking a replacement, though.

Also on Tuesday, hundreds of student rallied in the southern port city of Basra, blaming the ruling political parties for the delay in the nomination of a new PM, the news agency said.

On Friday, Iraq’s prominent Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for early elections in order to put an end to the political paralysis, saying that a new government had to be formed soon.

“The fastest and most peaceful way out of the current crisis, and avoiding the unknown or chaos or civil strife, is to go back to the people by holding an early election after legislating a fair electoral law,” Ayatollah Sistani said in a statement read out by his representative Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalaei during a sermon in the holy city of Karbala.

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