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Iraq To Restrict Campaign Advertising

BAGHDAD -- An Iraqi election official says campaign advertising will being strictly regulated in the run-up to next year's national elections to avoid the practices of previous years, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Chief election officer Hamdiya al-Husseini told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq that the independent election commission has issued directives banning party posters, candidate portraits, and other such material that can be stuck on walls, buildings, and blast barriers.

Al-Husseini recalled that Iraq's cities, towns, and even outlying villages in recent years became a jungle of posters, banners, and stickers that remained weeks after the poll. She added that cloth advertisements hung by strings will be allowed so that they can be taken down afterwards. But those ads can only be hung at certain locations to be decided by local authorities.

Al-Husseini said heavy fines will be imposed on offending factions and candidates, while the Interior Ministry will crack down on more serious abuses like the distribution of literature that incited hatred or violence.

Independent candidates and some citizens told RFI they doubt the new restrictions will be enforced, as some 300 candidates are thus far registered to contest the January 16 elections and many have already spent millions on advertising materials and are unlikely to confine their usage to the allocated spaces.