Thursday, February 05, 2009

The case of Yusef Al-Hububi

Al-Akhbar and Azzaman print quotes that are apparently from an original AFP story, including remarks by Yusef Al-Hububi (or Al-Habubi; top vote-getter in the election for provincial council in Karbala), responding to charges that he is a Baathist. Al-Hububi has a long career in the civil service in Karbala, having served in a number of local-government positions during the Saddam years, the highest position being deputy-governor of the province, and after 2003 as well. His point being that he was not a party member, rather he was an "administrator," and it was his attention to the needs of the people during those years--including following the 2003 collapse of the old regime--that won him popularity. He said there has already been an attempt to disqualify him from recent positions on the Baathist argument, which failed. He told AFP he had no particular political ambitions, but offered himself as a candidate in response to popular pressure.

The only independent Arab-paper attempt to talk to Al-Hububi I have seen so far is AlHayat, which interviewed his wife. She said it was local personages and some tribal leaders who convinced her husband to run in the election, promising their support. He didn't actually run a campaign, she said, adding that since his top vote-getting position has been announced he has been unavailable on account of security considerations. Earlier reports referred to an assassination attempt a couple of days before the election, and there are other reports of death-threats.

AlHayat says Al-Hububi got 55,000 votes, which would normally entitle his list to seven of the 27 seats in the provincial council. But since he had no list and ran alone as a "one-person list, " the result is that he has earned a seat for himself, and the rest of the votes were thrown away.

Sources told AlHayat about the assassination attempt and the death-threats. The paper says there is an atmosphere of anxiety for him in Shiite circles in the city, with personages and tribal leaders urging the government to preserve his life and to provide him with the necessary protection. The journalist adds:
Several Karbala figures said his popularity was owing to his honorable history, in the words of one of the tribal chiefs, who added that Al-Hububi had run the affairs of the province on a volunteer basis following invasion of the US troops, but that the religious parties dismissed him after a month, making him however an adviser to the province because of his long experience, which is more than 40 years.

The Supreme Council and Dawa parties have controlled the province for the past four years, and the sources at the Electoral Commission said [those two parties] will split the majority of the seats, after the dispersal of most of the votes for independents, and the loss of the [excess] votes that were cast in support of Al-Hububi.

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