Militia-backed candidates aim to consolidate power in Iraq polls

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Iraq goes to the polls in parliamentary elections on Sunday, two years after anger at the war-scarred country’s political class came surging out in mass protests. Now the collection of Shia militias created to fight the Islamic State (IS) group in 2014 are wielding more and more political power. FRANCE 24 reports on the Right’s Movement, a party connected to the Hezbollah Brigades, as it campaigns in Baghdad.

Armed groups are not allowed to enter politics, according to Iraqi law. But candidates linked to militias are playing a prominent role in the country’s October 10 legislative elections – getting around the law by setting up political parties such as the Rights Movement, led by Hussein Moanes, a former spokesman for the Hezbollah Brigades.

“Mr Hussein was a part of the political program of the Iraq Hezbollah Brigades, but he resigned seven or eight months ago,” said Hassan El Temimi, a candidates for Moanes’ party. “The Rights Movement is a new party, our work is within the frame of the Popular Mobilisation Forces,” he added, referring to the paramilitary groups formed in 2014 to fight the IS group.

Critics say candidates backed by armed groups have an unfair advantage over independents, and constitute an obstacle to badly needed reforms demanded by the protest movement two years ago. Independent candidates “can’t object” to the role militias play in backing certain candidates, said Iraqi journalist Saif Ali, adding: “It’s a question of life and death.”

Click on the video player above to watch FRANCE 24’s report.

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