Provincial elections in Iraq could be delayed until April next year

February 6, 2019 at 6:28 pm

Kirkuk- Early voting for the Iraqi general elections, May 5, 2018 Photo: KirkukNow

Karwan Salhi- Kirkuk

As the Iraqi parliament is deliberating amendments in the provincial councils’ elections law to pave the way for holding provincial elections in November 2019 as proposed by the country’s top electoral body, there have been attempts by Iraqi government to delay the process until April 2020.

Almas Fazil, an Iraqi MP and member of the parliament’s legal committee told (KirkukNow), “The committee is discussing amendments to the provincial councils’ elections law because the Election’s High Commission had suggested that the elections could be held on November 16 of this year on condition that it would be approved by the parliament.”

The amendments are now complete, but still await parliament approval.

According to the new amendments elections in all Iraqi provinces, including Kirkuk are scheduled for November 16, 2019, but do not include provinces in the Kurdistan Region. Meanwhile, the council seats will be reduced from 41 to 13 seats; one of them allocated as a quota for the Christians.

The extending of the work of the Kirkuk provincial council has been another amendment in the provincial elections law.

Jamal Shukur, another MP representing Kirkuk in the parliament emphasized that “all the components of Kirkuk contributed to the draft amendments.”

According to Fazil Almas, “Some changes have been made in the draft law; however, there are attempts by the Iraqi government to delay the elections until April 2020.”

However, she reaffirmed that the parliament will work to ensure that elections would be held in November 2019. “We believe that the scheduled date for the elections is suitable, even if they are to be held earlier than that date”, she said.

Halabja- A woman casts her vote in nationwide parliamentary elections, March 7, 2010, Photo: Metrographe Agency

Representatives of Kirkuk’s diverse components in the parliament have stressed that the multi-ethnic province should be included in the upcoming elections it was deprived of since 2005 due to ongoing disputes.

Almas Fazil indicated that it has been decided that “elections will be held in Kirkuk according to article 37 of the amended draft law of the provincial council elections.”

The Iraqi parliament on March 3, 2oi8 voted in favor of the draft law of the provincial council elections and set December 22, 2018 for holding the elections, but they were delayed because the electoral body was not fully prepared to organize the process.

According to the provincial elections bill, Kirkuk’s different components agreed on three main points: cleaning up the voter rolls, distributing administrative posts according to an agreement between the components and acknowledging that the current provincial council is unable to resolve decisive issues, including article 140 regarding the normalization of the situation in Kirkuk.

What does the electoral commission say?

Rizgar Haji Hama, member of the Independent high Electoral Commission told (KirkukNow), “We have formally set November 16, 2019 for holding the provincial elections, but the final decision rests with the Iraqi council of ministers.”

 He added that “due to the distinctive status the parliament has attached to Kirkuk, the Iraqi government asked the commission, the ministry of health and the ministry of commerce to take part in cleaning up the voter rolls prior to the elections.”

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