With Iraqi election just days away, head of EU observer mission visits Baghdad, Basra

Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, Head of the EU’s Election Observation Mission, speaks at a press conference in Erbil, Sept. 18, 2021. (Photo: Rebaz Siyan/Kurdistan 24)
Viola Von Cramon-Taubadel, Head of the EU’s Election Observation Mission, speaks at a press conference in Erbil, Sept. 18, 2021. (Photo: Rebaz Siyan/Kurdistan 24)

Erbil (Kurdistan 24) – The Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to Iraq visited Baghdad and Basra on Thursday as part of preparations for Sunday’s national parliamentary vote.

In the two cities, both centers of a protest movement that began in October 2019 and led to the downfall of a former prime minister, Viola von Cramon-Taubadel met with representatives of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), various other government officials, election candidates, civil society figures, domestic observers, media representatives, and others, a press release of the EU EUOM reported.

“It is important for me to follow the preparations for the elections not only in Baghdad but also outside the capital, she said in the statement. 

“While I spent in September some days in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, I travelled this time to the south,” she explained. “The objective is not only to have myself a very good understanding of the electoral process throughout the country; it is equally important for stakeholders and voters everywhere to clearly understand the mandate and methodology of the EU Election Observation Mission.”

The mission, she said, “is here upon invitation by the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq. Our mandate is to observe and to report on the process.”

“We take note of everything, which was reported, and we have heard a lot about repression against any candidate, independent candidates, but especially female candidates, that’s for sure,” she also told Kurdistan 24 in an exclusive interview last month.

“And we put everything in the report. We are very much aware of the situation that happened and is still ongoing.”

Read More: EU Election Observer Mission to publish final report after Iraqi elections: Official

In total, the EU EOM will deploy about 90 observers on election day. This includes a seven-member delegation of the European Parliament and about 50 diplomats from EU Member States, Canada, and Norway.

On Tuesday, two days after election day, Cramon-Taubade will present the mission’s preliminary findings in a press conference in Baghdad while the EU EOM observers will continue to assess post-electoral developments throughout the country.

Hans Akerboom, the Dutch Consul General to the Kurdistan Region, told Kurdistan 24 in a late October interview that his nation will also deploy three teams to the Kurdistan Region as part of the overall EU mission.

Read More: Netherlands to send 3 observer teams to Kurdistan Region for Iraqi election

“For example,” he explained, “we as the Netherlands, we have here in the Kurdistan Region three teams and we try to observe (the elections) in three provinces; in Duhok, Sulaimani, and in Erbil,” he told Kurdistan 24.

“So, as the Netherlands we are active, observing the elections, but we know for sure that this is a very good step in the democratic process of Iraq.”