Iraq to hold parliamentary elections in May 2018

Baghdad: The Iraqi government has decided to hold the parliamentary elections on May 15, 2018, with a condition that parties which have armed wings will not participate in the polls.

A statement by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi`s office said on Tuesday “the cabinet voted in favor of a decision of holding the parliamentary elections on May 15, 2018, and the federal government should provide a safe environment for the elections”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The federal government will work on returning the displaced people to their homes, and provided that “the parties running the elections must not have armed wings,” the statement said after the weekly cabinet meeting.

On October 22, the Iraqi electoral commission said it suggested May 12, 2018 as a date for the next parliamentary elections for the next four-year legislative term.

According to the Iraqi constitution, the parliamentary elections must be held at least 45 days before the end of the current legislative term, and the date of the elections must be set by a resolution of Abadi`s cabinet in coordination with the Independent High Electoral Commission.

The elections date must be ratified later by the current parliament before the endorsement of the Presidential Council to be fully approved.

Iraq`s previous general election was held on April 30, 2014, when Iraqis elected 328 lawmakers for the parliament, which in turn elected Abadi to form an inclusive government from the Shiite alliance, Kurds and Sunnis.

The statement by Abadi`s office did not say whether the elections will be held simultaneously with the provincial elections, as the current parliament on August 7 voted by majority to merge the country`s parliamentary and provincial elections in 2018.

Moreover, it is not yet clear whether the Kurdish parties will join the Iraqi elections following the referendum on September 25 on the independence of the Kurdish region and disputed areas.

The latest date for the elections came despite escalating tensions between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan due to the controversial independence referendum.