Iraq election result protesters will be dealt with legally, says President Salih

Protests erupt in Baghdad and across the country over outcome at the polls

Any objections to election results are legitimate and will be dealt with legally, Iraqi President Barham Salih said on Monday after protests against the outcome of the poll.

Iraq voted last Sunday in a nationwide election in which popular Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr won a majority of 73 seats in the 329-member Parliament. He campaigned as a nationalist and critic of Iran and foreign intervention.

I call on everyone to unite and work together as one for the sake of our country and its progression
Iraqi President Barham Salih

“The country is going through delicate circumstances and is facing grave challenges which require a unified national rank,” Mr Salih said.

“Dialogue must be a priority with the country’s interests above all,” he said.

Mr Salih's statement followed protests from supporters of pro-Iran parties that rejected the election results.

Preliminary results showed the Conquest (Fatah) Alliance, a coalition of Iran-backed and militia-aligned parties, was likely to have only about 15 MPs from the vote on October 10.

Local media reports said large groups loyal to the alliance were blocking a vital road north-east of Baghdad late on Sunday, while videos on social media portrayed protesters on the streets and gunshots were heard.

Smaller protests broke out in Basra, Wasit and Baghdad after the Resistance Co-ordination Committee, which is linked to Iran-backed militias, called for demonstrations.

“I call on everyone to unite and work together as one for the sake of our country and its progression,” Mr Salih said.

Local reports said Mr Al Sadr met political figures in Baghdad late on Sunday to supervise negotiations with the winning blocs to form the next government.

The commission said at least 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates had competed for 329 seats.

Last year, Prime Minister Mustafa Al Kadhimi called an early general election for June 2021, months before the planned date.

The decision was in response to demands from anti-government protesters, who since 2019 have staged mass public demonstrations. At least 600 have been killed by militia groups and, in some cases, regular government security forces.

Updated: October 18th 2021, 4:43 PM