Iraqi army arrests officers amid crackdown on military escorts for election candidates
A senior Iraqi general said the arrests were part of efforts to keep the distance between the military establishment and political activities ahead of next month’s elections.
News of arrests – an attempt to ensure the neutrality of Iraqi security institutions – is compounded by institutional demands to protect voters and candidates 
The Iraqi army has announced the arrest of a number of officers who allegedly joined candidates running for election.
It comes amid efforts to crack down on military escorts ahead of next month’s parliamentary election, following previous accusations of vote rigging and favoritism.
“The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces has ordered the arrest of a number of officers. This instruction is part of their role of supporting election candidates campaigning in different regions, ”said Lieutenant-General Abd ul Amir al-Shammari. , Deputy Commander of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command.
“These measures are part of the efforts to maintain the distance between the military establishment and the political activities underway in the country”, explained the general.
He said the security arrangements concerned “election observers and journalists”.
News of the arrests – an apparent attempt to ensure the neutrality of Iraqi security institutions – is compounded by institutional demands to protect voters and candidates, a government official said.
The anonymous manager said The New Arabic ‘s edition in Arabic Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the High Electoral Security Council work with the Electoral Commission to ensure that the elections are conducted smoothly and calmly.
Iraqi lawmakers have also complained about intimidation and pressure from some factions to withdraw from the election race.
Jasim Al-Bayati, member of the rule of law coalition, called for security arrangements for candidates and voters.
Past elections in Iraq have been marred by violence and electoral fraud with concerns about the security of the October general election.
Last week, the UN envoy to Iraq called on parties and candidates to refrain from intimidation, voter suppression and bribes – issues that have undermined public confidence in the country’s electoral process and led to a record turnout in 2018.
Hennis-Plasschaert described the efforts of Iraqi electoral authorities with UN technical assistance to address these gaps.
They include monitoring the vote count by an independent auditing firm and reporting provisional poll results across the country, Plasschaert said.
There will also be a large international monitoring team consisting of 130 experts and 600 support staff. To prevent abuse of electronic voter cards, they will be disabled for 72 hours after a person has voted to avoid double voting, Plasschaert added.