Iraq poll panel withdraws resignations

 31 Mar 2014 - 5:00

Iraqis look at a gaping hole following a suicide bombing along the centre of Al Hauz Bridge, west of Baghdad, yesterday.

BAGHDAD: The board of Iraq’s election commission withdrew its collective resignation yesterday, partly after an appeal from the United Nations mission to Baghdad, state television and a diplomatic source said.
The nine-member board of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) had resigned en masse over alleged parliamentary and judicial interference on Tuesday, sparking concern a general election due to be held on April 30 could be delayed.
But Iraqiya state TV, quoting election commissioner Gaata Al Zobaie, said that the board had withdrawn its collective resignation. The commissioners rescinded their resignations “after talking with regional and international” organisations, including the United Nations, a diplomatic source said. The IHEC’s board has been frustrated with what they say is a vague provision in Iraq’s electoral law that requires parliamentary hopefuls to be “of good reputation”.
Meanwhile, attacks in Sunni-majority areas of Iraq killed nine people, exactly a month before parliamentary polls with violence at its worst since the country emerged from a bloody sectarian conflict.
The latest violence came hours after seven soldiers were shot dead at a checkpoint in a late-night attack by militants in the north, the latest in a surge in bloodshed that has killed more than 2,200 people already this year.
A suicide bomber detonated a vehicle packed with explosives on a major bridge in Ramadi. The blast killed seven people and wounded 10 more, and also badly damaged the Hauz Bridge, a key crossing used by civilians connecting the north and south of the city. Ramadi originally had five bridges across the Euphrates River before a militant surge earlier this year. But two are used exclusively by security forces, and two others — including the Hauz Bridge — have now been damaged to the point that they can no longer be used.
Civilians in Ramadi are now able to cross only the Albu Faraj bridge in the north of the city.
Elsewhere, two police officers were killed by a roadside bomb that exploded near their car in Tikrit north of Baghdad. The attacks came just hours after militants opened fire on an army checkpoint near the restive northern city of Mosul, killing seven soldiers in a late-night shooting. In Mosul city itself, gunmen also killed a doctor.