Iraq’s premier promises early parliamentary polls for June 2021

Iraq will hold its next parliamentary elections nearly a year early, the premier announced Friday, as he seeks to make good on promises he offered when he came to power.

“June 6, 2021, has been fixed as the date for the next legislative elections,” said Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi, who took the reins in May after months of protests forced his predecessor to resign.

“Everything will be done to protect and ensure the success of these polls,” Kadhemi said in a televised speech.

Elections in Iraq are sometimes marred by violence and often by fraud.

The next parliamentary elections had originally been due to take place in May 2022.

But months of protests began in October, with thousands taking to the streets of Baghdad and across the south.

Demonstrators demanded that the political system be dismantled, pointing to endemic corruption and what many see as the malign influence of sectarian interests.

Kadhemi was nominated in April, months after Adel Abdel Mahdi stepped down — the first time a premier has resigned before the end of his term since the US-led invasion of 2003.

Kadhemi’s government on Thursday said a total of 560 people had died in protests since October.

Nearly all were demonstrators killed at the hands of the security forces, according to an adviser to the premier.

Abdel Mahdi’s government proposed to parliament a new electoral law that was quickly passed late last year.

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