By Guneet Singh Johar,  STAND Canada Blog Writer

On May 12, 2018 Iraqi citizens headed to the election polls to cast their vote to determine who would become the new leader of Iraq. This marks the first election since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has been defeated. However, two months have passed and the election results remain inconclusive. Consequently, a manual recount of the votes is underway in order to determine the amount of suspect ballots cast during the election.

This election has a chance to mark a new way forward for Iraq and Iraqi citizens while simmultaneously resolving the past atrocities committed by ISIS. Although the defeat of ISIS was the right and necessray step forward, the leaders of Iraq and Iraqis have much to do in order to rectify the carnage left behind. For instance, the region where the Yazidis reside (a minority group who were targeted and persecuted by ISIS) has not been repaired since the war ended, leaving hazardous explosive devices in the area. Moreover, the government of Iraq has failed to enact policies that benefit lraqi citizens, including health services, education, and aiding the return of over a million displaced people. Despite all of these concerns, citizens of Iraq are still holding onto hope. But what exactly does the future of Iraq currently look like?

The election determines who the 329 members elected to the Council of Representatives will be. These representatives will in turn elect the President of Iraq as well as the Prime Minister. Although past elections in Iraq were characterized by “…large coalitions encompassing a wide spectrum of political groups”, the 2018 political landscape is divided between the Shia, Sunni and the Kurdish groups. The Shia faction has five different coalitions that are striving to attain power, the Sunni faction consists of five coalitions, and the Kurdish faction contains four coalitions running for power. The political candidate who appears to be the most popular is Haider al-Abadi, the current Prime minister of Iraq. Haider al-Abadi represents one of the five Shia coalitions (Nasr Coalition). However, if al-Abadi does in fact win the election, his election will likely upset the Kurds “who opposed al-Abadi’s tough stance [towards the Kurds] following the independence referendum,” which has the possibility of causing wider issues throughout the country.

The government has 90 days to form a coalition once the ballots have been recounted and announced. Yet, none of the political candidates have discussed how they would resolve conflict within the region depending on the election results. Although there is hope for the future of Iraq, Iraqi leaders need to ensure that these divisions can be mended and resolved.

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