First Published: 2009-01-31

 
First black Iraqi runs in elections
 

‘Iraqi Obama’ hopes to channel US President's good luck by winning in provincial elections.

 

Middle East Online

‘Movement of Free Iraqis’

BASRA, Iraq - He calls himself the "Iraqi Obama" and hopes to channel President Barack Obama's good luck by becoming the first black Iraqi to win an election.

Salah al-Rekhayis lives in a town southwest of Basra called Zubayr, and with the help of his campaign manager-sister and brother, has pasted campaign posters urging citizens to vote for him in Saturday's provincial elections.

He walks in the unkempt streets of his town, bending down to greet children with a big smile and a warm glow about him, feeling confident of the great ambition to win one of the 35 seats up for grabs in Basra.

Al-Rekhayis is among the many Iraqis who have African roots.

"Obama is the reason I decided to run. We both have African roots," said al-Rekhayis. "We never had the same opportunities as other Iraqis before, but Obama gave me the push to run after he took the leadership of the most powerful country in the world."

Al-Rekhayis, a municipal employee, said he didn't have the money to run a full-fledged campaign. His home — a run-down three-roomed space with very little furniture and a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama on the living room wall — was turned into a makeshift campaign office.

He said they were so impressed with Obama's campaign and victory that he created a small party called the Movement of Free Iraqis and ran under its banner. He said they have already created a list of potential black candidates to run in the next Iraqi elections.

"When we found out that Obama is black from TV, we started to follow his news carefully," al-Rekhayis said. "We had a party and celebrated when he won the elections."

 

Israel kills three in attack on pro-regime Syria camp

Iran's historically unpredictable elections

France votes under heavy security

US Defense Secretary Mattis visits strategic Djibouti

Satellite dishes sprout in post-IS east Mosul

Iran reverses decision to ban live presidential debates

Six Israelis including two soldiers held for anti-Arab attacks

Economists, rights advocates concerned over Egypt’s state of emergency

Qatari hunters ecstatic at release from Iraqi kidnappers

Prosecutor says charities colluding with migrant traffickers

Iran's Ahmadinejad won't endorse other candidates

Rocky days ahead after Turkey referendum

Huge Shiite crowd throngs Baghdad shrine

Rabat accuses Algiers of expelling 55 migrants across border

Morocco, US take part in joint military exercise

US defence secretary visits key ally Qatar

Lebanese activists ramp up campaign against rape law

Saudis among kidnapped hunters freed in Iraq

Trial in Tunisia beach massacre set to begin April 26

Tunisia hotel attacked by jihadists sees hope in 'rebirth'

IS claims deadly attack on FSB office in Russia

Spate of attacks shows weakening of Islamic State

Mediterranean migrant death toll tops 1,000 in 2017

Iraq forces free 11-year-old Yazidi girl in Mosul

Kuwaiti opposition leader freed from prison

Kidnapped Qataris freed in Iraq, Syria evacuations resume

Turkey opposition to appeal referendum at top court

Fears engulf French election after Paris shooting

An Iraqi family's Colombian odyssey

US defence chief in Israel for talks on Iran, Syria

Morocco arrests scandal-hit Ferrari driving 'rich kid'

Syria evacuees on move again after being blocked for 48 hours

French policeman killed in IS attack in Paris

Trump: Iran not 'living up to spirit' of nuclear deal

Ahmadinejad barred from running in election

US urges UN council to focus on 'incredibly destructive' Iran

Iran bans live election debates

UN, Russia set for Syria meet without US

Suicide bombers at Syria transit site 'disguised' as aid workers

Moscow bid for new Syria attack probe rejected

Iraq summons Turkish envoy over Erdogan interview

Erdogan revives death penalty debate in Turkey

Thousands protest unemployment in Tunisia

Israel occupation forces fire at Palestinian protesters

Saudi Arabia malls to hire only locals