Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified October’s parliamentary election after it rejected earlier appeals by Iran-backed Shia factions against the poll results.
Monday’s ratification, following a delay of more than two months, clears the way for a new parliament to hold its inaugural session within two weeks, under the Iraqi law.
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“The Federal Supreme Court has ratified the results of the legislative elections,” its media officer announced in a brief statement.
Iran-backed factions, including powerful armed groups, had alleged irregularities in the October 10 vote, in which they performed poorly.
“The Federal Court has decided to reject the complaint aimed at not having the (election) results ratified, and to make the plaintiff bear the costs,” Judge Jassim Mohammed earlier said as he read out the ruling at the court headquarters in the capital, Baghdad, on Monday.
“The verdict is binding on all authorities”.
Ratifying election results paves the way for a new parliament to be inaugurated and a new government – to replace the outgoing cabinet led by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi – formed.
Al Jazeera’s Mahmoud Abdelwahed reporting from Baghdad said supporters of the opposing political parties have been “occupying areas near Baghdad’s heavily fortified green zone for over two months,”, Abdelwahed said. “They believe the [lost] seats belong to an umbrella of political parties.”
“They [opposition parties] have been trying to present legal evidence, they have been trying to convince the court to annul the election results or to order the election commission to hold a recount,” he explained.
“There have been talks between rival political parties to reach a consensus in regard to forming the upcoming parliament, the new prime minister and new speaker of parliament” he said. “If a consensus is reached, these protesters may leave. If not, then escalation might happen.”
The formation of governments in Iraq has involved long and complex negotiations among Shia, Sunni and Kurdish groups ever since the 2003 United States-led invasion removed Saddam Hussein.
Protests broke out when the election results were announced last month, with the supporters of pro-Iranian groups – who suffered significant losses in the election – clashing with security forces.
The Conquest (Fatah) Alliance – the political arm of the multiparty Hashd al-Shaabi, a pro-Iranian former paramilitary force – won about 15 seats, according to preliminary results. In the last parliament, it held 48, making it the second-largest bloc. Hashd leaders rejected the result as a “fraud”.
The biggest winner in the vote was the movement led by Shia populist leader Muqtada al-Sadr, an opponent of Iranian and United States influence in Iraq, which won 73 seats, more than any other group in the fractious 329-seat house.
The election, which was staged months ahead of schedule, came amid widespread frustration with Iraq’s political elite.
Turnout stood at 41 percent, the lowest since the US-led invasion.