Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat- Iraqi Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi confirmed that political parties are manufacturing “an enemy” in order to frighten the public and win votes at the forthcoming Iraqi elections. Al-Hashimi said that this was in order to push the Iraqi electorate to vote along factional or sectarian lines, which is in the electoral interests of some candidates and parties. Al-Hashimi also accused some candidates of not adhering to the principles of fair competition by employing unethical methods to win votes.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, al-Hashimi ridiculed those who accuse him of promoting Baathist party ideology, saying “the danger to Iraq today lies in the mentality (of manufacturing an enemy) that has been adopted by some individuals and political parties in an attempt to fixate people on this enemy. They use this to frighten the public and force them once again into sectarian and factional trenches, and this of course enables these parties to achieve electoral superiority.”
Al-Hashimi said that such practices also “covers up the [political] failures in the areas of reconciliation, security, services, and the injustices in the field of human rights.”
Tarik a-Hashimi, who heads the Tajdid [Renewal] bloc, which is part of the National Iraqi List that is led by Iyad Allawi, also told Asharq Al-Awsat “Our people are too smart to fall for such methods”
MP Baha al-Araji, Chairman of the Parliamentary Law Committee, and a member of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc recently called for the Accountability and Justice Commission to add Tarik al-Hashimi’s name to the list of those electoral candidates banned from participating in the forthcoming elections for promoting Baathist ideology. When asked whether such claims fall within the framework of electoral campaigning, al-Hashimi confirmed that “Iraq is experiencing the election season, and of course there are candidates that do not adhere to the principles of fair competition, and resort to methods of misrepresentation, distortion, propaganda, and misleading public opinion.”
Al-Hashimi added “Accusing me or other politicians confirms to everybody that the political scene needs to pass legislation to regulate the behavior of candidates competing [for elections] and confirms the correctness of our position when we called for the legislation of an electoral code of conduct which provides for the elimination of any action or statement that damages the democratic experiment in Iraq, such as incitement to hatred, political miscarriage, media exposure, character assassination against individuals and groups by spreading rumors, and unfounded or malicious fabricated news or propaganda. Unfortunately time is running out and the law is not resolving this, and the reality of the situation confirms the danger to democracy and to the country’s present and future.”
As for the rumors that the National Iraqi List promotes Baathist ideology, al-Hashimi told Asharq Al-Awsat that “[the Iraqi National List] is a political coalition that is firmly entrenched in the national project, and has a shared identity with Iraqis, this is a coalition that has its supporters and leadership, and its candidates have their history. I am not afraid of the image of the Iraq National List, and its position in the minds of the voters; my fears are focused on social cohesion and national harmony. Our people have made good progress on the path to restore cohesion and get out of the factional trenches. Such calls would divide Iraqis once again and this is a big threat to the country.”
For its part, the National Iraqi List received a clarification from the Sadrist bloc in which Nasser al-Rubaie, the leader of the Sadrist parliamentary bloc, said that “the position of Baha al-Araji towards Tariq al-Hashimi is a personal position, and his remarks do not represent that of the Sadrist bloc that offer al-Hashimi all respect and appreciation.”
During a press conference on Sunday, Iraqi Parliamentary speaker Iyad al-Samarrai also confirmed that al-Araji’s was a “personal” one. While Hasan al-Shammari, a member of the Accountability and Justice Commission previously said that the Commission did not discuss al-Araji’s request, and that this issue is not subject to the will of one person and that what al-Araji called for is a personal matter.