Iraq: Sadrists And Kurds Denounce Election Commission Arrests

Both the Sadrists and Kurds have come out against the arrests of two election commission officials who were picked up on corruption charges this week. Meanwhile, at least 13 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in the latest violence.

Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has denounced Thursday’s arrests of two Independent High Electoral Commission officials. In a released statement, Sadr suggested the arrests were ordered by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s brother in an effort to postpone or cancel elections. Sadr also noted that Faraj al-Haidari and Karim al-Tamim were detained ahead of much worthier candidates for investigation.

Separately, the Kurdish Regional Government also expressed doubts over the legitimacy of the corruption claims and called for the officials’ release. A spokesman called the arrests "a flagrant violation and a serious infringement of the political process." Previous attempts to convict the commission of corruption claims failed. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq says it is monitoring the situation.

Haidari, who is the head of the electoral commission, elicited Maliki’s anger when he refused a request to do a full recount of votes in the 2010 election. In that election, Maliki’s State of Law party came in second place, forcing the prime minister to engage in months of deal-making with the Kurds, the Sadrists and other parties in order to retain his post for a second term.

Even without these arrests, the "Arbil Agreement" is in significant danger of coming undone. If the Kurds, Sadrists or the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya party leave the coalition over alleged malfeasance, the government could fall apart. Since December, Maliki has targeted several Sunni political rivals for harassment, including Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. The Sadrists and the Kurds have both called Maliki a "dictator" in recent months, and the Kurds have other significant problems with Baghdad.

Att least 11 Iraqis were killed and 28 more were wounded in the latest violence. The worst attack occurred in a Tikrit marketplace where an off-duty policeman was trying to sell vegetables.

In Tikrit, a bomb planted on a vegetable cart operated by an off-duty policeman exploded, killing the policeman and wounding at least 19 civilians. Guards at the local prison discovered an escape tunnel before it could be used.

In Mosul, gunmen killed two civilians and a policeman. A clash left one soldier and one militant dead.

A blast in Yusufiya killed two people and wounded three others.

Two policemen were killed and two more were wounded in a blast in Madaen.

A bomb in Khalidiya killed two policemen and wounded a third one.

Gunmen killed a policeman in Haditha.

In Baghdad, two policemen were wounded during a bombing in the Khadraa neighborhood.

A sticky bomb attached to a government vehicle exploded in Sadr City and wounded one bystander.

No casualties were reported after a bombing at the Shamiya home of a Shi’ite Endowment official.

A Kurdish Asayesh patrol was targeted in an attack in Nimrod but no casualties were reported.

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Author: Margaret Griffis

Margaret Griffis is a journalist from Miami Beach, Florida and has been covering Iraqi casualties for Antiwar.com since 2006.