Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi delivers a speech during a ceremony in the Shiite holy city of Najaf on January 7, 2018. He will run a rival campaign against his opponent Vice President Nouri al-Maliki. File photo: AFP/Haidar Hamdani
Erbil, Kurdistan Region- Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has finally revealed that he will lead his own election campaign to run in the general elections scheduled for May 12, only hours after his ruling party allowed Abadi and his rival Vice President Nouri al-Maliki to form two different lists.
Abadi, himself coming from the Shiite majority, announced the formation of Nasr, or Victory coalition late on Saturday night. He said that it will include members of all Iraqi components.
“I announce the formation of Nasr coalition to the sons of our dear nation from all ethnicities and backgrounds under the banner of Iraq,” PM Abadi said in a statement, picking a name that corresponds to battlefield achievement under his leadership since 2014 against ISIS, supported by the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
The statement was first posted to the official Facebook and Twitter pages of the Iraqi government, something that was harshly criticized by some who pointed out that Iraqi law does not allow officials to use government resources for election campaigns. The statement has since been deleted, but was reposted to Abadi’s official Facebook page.
The victory over ISIS, crushing the Kurdish vote on independence and his key pledge to fight corruption with an iron fist are the main themes to feature in his election campaign, the statement explained.
Nasr Coalition will reinforce the “unity of the country and national sovereignty,” it added, a reference to fighting any attempt for separation following the Kurdish referendum that saw nearly 93 percent of the people choosing to leave Iraq in September, a move that was crushed by a military incursion into disputed areas such as the oil-rich Kirkuk.
“Our national and human resources are enough to make Iraq get ahead of other countries in terms of development and stability,” Abadi said.
Haidar Hamada, Abadi’s media secretary stated on Thursday that Abadi will have candidates from all Iraqi provinces and includes those who fought against ISIS, a reference to the Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary, though they are only allowed to participate in elections if they first leave their military role.
VP Maliki also announced on Saturday that he will head the State of Law Coalition for the May 12 election, a date that needs approval of the Iraqi parliament, and one that some Sunni politicians say has to be postponed because of the large volume of displacement caused by the ISIS war since 2014.
Abadi and Maliki, who are both from the Dawa Party, state that elections must go ahead on its scheduled date.
“My message to anyone pushing for delaying the elections is don’t waste your time and get ready for elections taking place on time,” said Abadi in his weekly press conference.
VP Maliki was the Iraqi Prime Minister from 2006 to 2014. He was largely blamed for the rise of ISIS and the loss of a third of the country to the extrimist organization, something that was reversed under PM Abadi’s leadership.