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."

 

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Egypt's Sisi says will stand for re-election

Turkey launches new strikes on Kurdish targets in Syria

Pence heads to Mideast despite Muslim, Christian anger

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Iraqi, Kurdish leaders hold talks on bitter regional dispute

Russia-led Syria peace congress to be held January 30

Assad regime says Syria a 'tourist' destination

Journalists arrested while reporting Sudan protests

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians

Saudi Arabia intercepts new Yemen rebel missile attack