Arab and Turkmen MPs of Kirkuk call for postponing elections

Kirkuk, Sept. 15th, 2021- Press conference in Kirkuk by Arab and Turkmen members of Iraqi parliament representing Kirkuk calling for delay in the elections for the sensitive case of Kirkuk. Facebook account of MP Khalid al-Mafraji

By KirkukNow

Four members of the Iraqi parliament MPs called for delay of the upcoming October parliamentary elections in Kirkuk for a week due to the dangerous situation in Kirkuk in a press conference in Kirkuk on Wednesday.

The four Arab and Turkmen MPs propose elections to be held in Kirkuk under direct supervision of the council of commissioners for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC and international observers, said the statement declared by the MPs following thir meeting.

“Kirkuk is in a dangerous situation and relevant parties to refrain from tense speech and transparent procedures to guarantee the integrity of the process.”

The oil rich city of Kirkuk, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province of Kurds, Sunni and Shiite Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

The new electoral law ratified last November, a key demand of demonstrators in 2019, changes each of the country’s 18 provinces into several electoral districts in order to prevent parties from running on unified lists, which has in the past helped them easily take all the seats in a specific province. Instead, the seats would go to whoever gets the most votes in the electoral districts.

The 329-member house of representatives was elected in May 2018. The vote is held every four years, but the protesters have been demanding early elections.

MPs Khalid al-Mafraji and Mohammed Tamim, representing the Arab community, beside Hassan Toran and Arashad al-Salihi, of the Turkmen component of Kirkuk, also rejected return of the Kurdish forces (Peshmerga) to Kirkuk in the excuse of attacks by remnants of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS in the suburbs.

“Some parties try to make use of Daesh attacks to villages around Daquq, a district south of Kirkuk, and al-Rashad sub-district, to balance the security equation in Kirkuk in order to involve the Peshmerga into Kirkuk administrative borders,” the statement said.

The Arab and Turkmen accus the Kurds of dominance over IHEC office in Kirkuk. “There are admin breaches in IHEC Kirkuk office for party agendas and work to repeat what happened in 2018 elections.”

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK led by co-presidents Bafel Talabani and Lahoor Sheikh Jangi is the leading Kurdish party in Kirkuk since 2005. PUK has got 6 out of 12 seats of Kirkuk in Iraqi parliament elections of 2013 and 2018 while Arabs and Turkmens each got three seats. KDP won only two seats of 12 seats of Kirkuk parliamentary seats in 2013 and boycotted 2018 elections I Kirkuk. 

The Arab political council and Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF, accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, of fraud in 2018 yet it was denied by the PUK and the IHEC finally endorsed the results.

Kurds were holding the position of IHEC director in the last rounds. Arabs and Turkmens always accuse the Kurds of fraud in elections as the Kurds were holding grip over power in the oil-rich city up to 2017 when Iraqi troops ousted the Kurdish forces following declaration of victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS.

Back in 2020, The Arab and Turkmen parties in Kirkuk rejected appointment of Sawsan Tayib as director of IHEC Kirkuk office, accusing her of involvement in 2018 parliamentary elections fraud in Kirkuk in favor of a key political party.

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