BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Nuri al-Maliki, the leader of the State of Law coalition, emphasized the importance of holding local council elections for governorates on the scheduled date of December 18, amid indications that his coalition will enter these elections with the goal of preparing for his return to power if parliamentary elections are held within the next year.
According to observers, the disintegration of the Coordinating Framework forces into three “tactically competing” alliances takes advantage of the fact that the elections will be held without a serious opponent from the opposition, after a number of civil forces announced their refusal to participate due to a lack of opportunities for the power of money and weapons, and after ensuring that The Sadrist movement will boycott the elections, which provides an opportunity.
Al-Maliki urged his followers to “prepare for and actively participate in choosing someone to represent them in provincial councils.” Officials in the State of Law alliance say they want to take control of at least five southern provinces and establish significant influence in Baghdad, as well as win at least 200 seats in the 450-seat provincial councils where elections are held.
◙ The lack of competition allows al-Maliki to rise up the ranks once more in an attempt to create a new image for himself.
And if this goal is met, it will pave the way for al-Maliki to resume his role as the main decision-maker in determining whether the government of Muhammad Shia al-Sudani can continue in its current term or return to serve as a transitional government, as it was described when it began, in preparation for possible early elections. By the end of next year, or by the middle of 2025 at the latest.
Al-Maliki is betting that the State of Law coalition’s success in the first local council elections since 2013 will provide him with powerful electoral tools to justify his return as a major force in the upcoming elections, which means his return as a candidate for prime minister.
Al-Maliki won about 120 seats and 5 governors in the previous local elections in 2013, but the dissolution of these councils in 2019 following the popular uprising against the sectarian system cost the State of Law coalition the ability to gain a sufficient majority in the October 2020 elections. Despite the fact that the rule of law remained the most powerful force among the parties to the coordination framework, al-Maliki was able to impose himself for the office of prime minister.
However, the lack of competition, in light of what al-Maliki deems political stability, gives him with the chance to rise up the ranks once more in an attempt to construct a different picture of himself.
According to observers, al-Maliki was successful in transforming the parties represented in the coordination framework from militias of corruption and subservience to Iran to appear as parties competing on political programs and sponsoring reconstruction projects under al-Sudani’s government.
On this basis, Al-Maliki wishes to reverse his personal image, which was associated with his power between 2006 and 2014, when it was the power of political chaos, assassinations, mass arrests, and administrative corruption that resulted in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in oil revenues, in projects that were not completed, or in money spent on them that did not begin from scratch. Basis.
During the previous period, Al-Maliki got many visits from US Ambassador Alina Romanowski, the most recent of which was on the 16th of this month, with the goal of reintroducing Al-Maliki as a trustworthy politician.
According to Al-Maliki’s media office, he discussed with Romanowski “the future of bilateral relations between the two countries, as well as the recent visit of the Iraqi security delegation to Washington and Baghdad and Washington’s keenness to activate the terms of the strategic framework agreement according to a specific timetable.”
In this meeting, Al-Maliki stated that “the country’s political and security stability will contribute to the resumption of the process of reconstruction and construction and the entry of major foreign companies, calling on American companies to work in Iraq, especially in the field of energy.”
The Sadrist movement’s absence became decisive last Thursday, when an official close to Muqtada al-Sadr announced that the movement’s leader had “resolved the issue of the Sadrists not participating in the provincial elections, and the Sadrists will not have any electoral list and will not support any of the electoral lists.”
“The issue of the Sadrist movement’s participation in the upcoming Parliament elections has not been resolved,” stated the same official. This matter has not been discussed between Sadr and those close to him, and it is too early to settle it, especially given the lack of any genuine direction for early parliamentary elections.”
Despite the fact that the deadline for registering coalitions expired last week, the Electoral Commission reports that 198 parties will run in the local council elections alone, while alliances will involve 296 parties.