News

    Iraqi Voters Offered a Wide Array of Candidates

    Multimedia

    Audio

    Next Sunday, millions of Iraqi voters are expected to head to the polls to choose a new national assembly, which will name a president and two deputies. In turn, they will decide who will become the next interim prime minister. Three of the leading candidates for the country's most-powerful position are all from the same slate that is expected to dominate the elections.

    Iraqi voters will have to choose among a dizzying array of parties and coalitions vying for seats in the new 275-member national assembly. There are 111 political entities listed on the ballot, representing nearly 8,000 candidates.

    But, because seats on the assembly will allocated under a political system that rewards nationwide voter turnout, most observers here believe the biggest winner Sunday will be the largely-Shi'ite slate called the United Iraqi Alliance.

    Making up 60 percent of Iraq's 26 million people, Shi'ite Muslims are the dominant majority in the country.

    The United Iraqi Alliance was put together at the request of Iraqi Shi'ite's most-senior religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. The coalition is headed by a close confidant of the ayatollah, Shi'ite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

    Mr. Sistani, who calls voting a "religious duty" for all Shi'ites, commands so much influence among Iraqi Shi'ites, preliminary surveys indicate as many as 45 percent of registered Shi'ites may vote for the slate.

    With the United Iraqi Alliance poised to win a large number, if not a majority, of seats in the new assembly, observers in Baghdad say it is not surprising that some of the top contenders for the prime minister post are members of Mr. Sistani's coalition.

    One of the strongest alliance candidates for the job is believed to be the current interim finance minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi. The 62 year-old, French-educated minister is a senior member of the powerful Shi'ite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq party, headed by United Iraqi Alliance leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim.

    Mr. Abdul-Mahdi, who is seen as a moderate, leaped into the ranks of front-runners after he met with both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in Washington, last October.

    In an interview with VOA, the finance minister downplayed recent news reports suggesting that he has already been tapped to become the next prime minister.

    "Nothing of that really is discussed within the list. This question is open to later on," said Mr. Abdul-Mahdi. "We're in a very critical situation in Iraq, so I don't think we're in a position to predict."

    Mr. Abdul-Mahdi's closest potential rival for the post of prime minister on the United Iraqi Alliance slate is said to be interim Vice President Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

    The 57-year-old physician-turned-politician is the main spokesman for the Islamic Dawa Party, which waged a fierce campaign against Saddam Hussein's Baathist regime in the late 1970s. Mr. Jaafari, who led the party in exile in Iran until the fall of Saddam's regime in April, 2003, consistently ranks as the most popular politician among Iraqi Shi'ites.

    Another potential prime ministerial candidate is Hussein al-Shahristani, who was one of six people hand-picked by Grand Ayatollah Sistani to draw up the United Iraqi Alliance's candidates list. The Canadian-educated nuclear scientist was arrested and jailed in 1979 by Saddam after he refused to work in the dictator's nuclear program.

    Mr. Shahristani is now Grand Ayatollah Sistani's closest political advisor. Observers say, although the scientist has shown little enthusiasm for becoming the next prime minister, he would probably accept the position, if it is offered to him.

    Depending on the election results, the three United Iraqi Alliance candidates could face stiff competition from the current Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. He has put together a largely secular slate for the elections, in hopes of attracting Iraqis who are do not want strong religious influence in Iraqi politics.

    Mr. Allawi's aides predict that, if his slate wins 70 or more seats on the 275-member assembly, Mr. Allawi, a Shi'ite, will be able to generate enough support in the assembly to be reappointed as prime minister.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora