Spotlight on Iraq as Maliki Threatens Election
The next general election in Iraq is not due until 2014, but Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned on Wednesday that he will call for early elections if the protracted negotiations over power sharing break down.
If he could persuade more than half of the parliament to vote themselves out of a job and back on the campaign trail, the ballot would take place against a rather different backdrop from the last time, not least because of the apparently aborted attempt this week to silence large swathes of the media.
Plans to shut down 44 media channels, including BBC and Voice of America, ostensibly because of problems with licences, had drawn strong criticism both within Iraq and around the world.
It now appears that media will be given additional time to comply, but according to the Journalistic Freedoms Observatory (JFO), the process will remain unreasonably expensive and onerous.
Adding to concerns in some quarters about the electoral process is the fact that the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) comes to the end of its term in July, and no replacements have yet been nominated.
The international business community is just one of the sectors that will be watching developments closely.