The current head of the Iraqi Shia National Coalition and leader of the Hikma (Wisdom) party, Ammar al-Hakim, announced his withdrawal from the Victory for Iraq electoral coalition, formed and led by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, ahead of the upcoming elections.
Hakim’s withdrawal came days after Hadi al-Amiri, a senior Commander of the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militia, withdrew from the Abadi-led alliance, a sign of growing dissent among Shia leaders in the lead up to the May 12 elections.
On Jan. 14, Abadi formed his Nasr (Victory) coalition, inspired by the Iraqi forces’ final victory over the Islamic State (IS) after three years of fighting.
Hakim joined Abadi’s alliance, and hours later, Amiri withdrew from the electoral coalition. Observers claimed it was due to Hakim joining the coalition, pointing to friction between Hakim and Amiri.
The inclusion of the PMF leader in Abadi’s alliance was a dramatic shift from his previous policies which long stated that militia leaders would be prevented from participating in the elections.
Both Victory for Iraq and the Wisdom Party issued joint statements on Monday night, announcing they had decided to run in the elections with two separate party lists.
The statement mentioned there was “an agreement between the party and the alliance… to reconnect after the elections within the framework of creating broader alliances to form a national government.”
“The Wisdom party has decided to withdraw from the Victory for Iraq coalition,” a party source told Kurdistan 24. “There are disagreements over how many seats would be allocated to the Wisdom party. We will be allied after the elections,” the source, who asked to remain anonymous, added without giving further details.
A source from the Prime Minister’s coalition also revealed that Abadi refused to nominate names submitted by Hakim. The source asserted Abadi had set conditions on members that were not to be violated.
The Iraqi Prime Minister in an interview with a Saudi-owned al-Arabiya news had previously stated that parties opting to withdraw from his alliance “had their differences.”
Amiri had at the time claimed his withdrawal from Abadi’s coalition was due to “technical reasons” without providing any additional information.
Initially, some 25 parties joined the Victory for Iraq alliance to form the largest electoral coalition. Soon after, the alliance was marred by the withdrawal of significant Shia leaders, notably Hakim and Amiri.
ABADI’S ALLIANCE WITH THE PMF
Among those joining Abadi’s alliance were groups with armed wings operating under the banner of the Hashd al-Shaabi, which was formed in 2014 to combat IS.
Senior Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr criticized the coalition for allowing sectarian leaders, particularly from the Hashd al-Shaabi.
KURDISTAN REGION’S PARTICIPATION
According to the power-sharing system in Iraq, the Prime Minister’s position is assigned to a representative of the Shia community, with the Kurds taking the post of Iraq’s Presidency and the Sunnis holding the Speaker of Parliament position.
The Iraqi legislative elections will include the Kurdistan Region, where the Kurds intend to participate and while no coalition has thus far been formed, no Kurdish party has yet joined Abadi’s Victory for Iraq coalition.
Iraqi Sunni parties warn the country is not ready to hold elections on May 12 as most of the displaced persons have yet to return to their newly liberated areas.
It is unclear whether the elections will be successfully held in all provinces of Iraq, especially in areas where people are struggling to rebuild and recover from the war.
Editing by Nadia Riva