• Wednesday, 19 June 2024

Veteran Sunni Politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani Calls for Vote Recount After Failed Election of Iraqi Parliament Speaker

Veteran Sunni Politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani Calls for Vote Recount After Failed Election of Iraqi Parliament Speaker

Veteran Sunni politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, a candidate for the speakership of the Iraqi parliament, has called for a recount of votes following the legislature's failure to elect a new speaker earlier this month. This call comes amid a period of parliamentary deadlock, with the speaker's position remaining vacant for half a year.

The Iraqi parliament reconvened on May 18 for a second round of voting to fill the speaker role. The main candidates were Mashhadani and Salem al-Issawi, the head of the Sunni Sovereignty bloc. Despite these efforts, no candidate secured the required absolute majority in the first vote on January 13 or the second vote, which ended in chaos without proceeding to a third round due to a physical altercation among lawmakers.

In a letter dated Wednesday and addressed to First Deputy Speaker Muhsin al-Mandalawi, Mashhadani called for the establishment of an “impartial investigative committee” to audit the votes from the second round. He alleged that some invalid ballots were incorrectly counted as valid, thus distorting the results.

"According to information and facts we received … there are invalid ballots that were counted incorrectly, exceeding the announced number," Mashhadani stated in his letter. He urged for a thorough verification of ballots, particularly those marked or scratched out, to ensure the accuracy of the vote.

Mashhadani lagged behind Issawi in the second vote despite being endorsed by the largest Sunni bloc, Taqadum, and several other parties. The parliamentary session was adjourned without scheduling a third round of voting.

The speaker's position has been vacant since November when the Federal Supreme Court invalidated Mohammed al-Halbousi’s parliamentary membership, ending his tenure amid accusations of document forgery related to the resignation of another lawmaker in 2022.

In January, Taqadum nominated Shaalan al-Karim for the speakership, but he withdrew three months later due to resistance from Shiite blocs in parliament.

Iraq's sectarian power-sharing system designates the parliament speaker position to the Sunnis, the prime minister to the Shiites, and the presidency to the Kurds. Earlier this month, the Coordination Framework, the largest bloc in the parliament, urged Sunni parties to resolve the speaker vacancy within a week.

As of now, no date has been set for a third round of voting. The Iraqi parliament continues to grapple with this significant leadership vacancy amid political tensions and calls for procedural integrity.