Arabs and Turkmen have expressed their opposition to the passage of the provincial council elections law, if the amendment removes Article 35, while Kurdish representatives say they have succeeded in removing that article.
The Iraqi parliament has set November 6, 2023 as the date for the provincial council elections, as part of the voting process on the amendments to the provincial council elections law, which was held on Monday morning.
The Arabs and Turkmens are in favor of giving special status to Kirkuk province for the provincial council elections, so that Article 35 of the new amendment remains unchanged.
"We completely reject the passage of the provincial election law unless the new amendment includes Article 35, which is related to the audit of voter registration in Kirkuk province," said a joint statement issued by the Arab Council in Kirkuk and the United Turkmen Front.
Video: Joint press conference of the two Arab Councils and the United Turkmen Front list. KirkukNow
"Kirkuk has not held elections since 2005 due to the policy of demographic change through the imposition of unilateral political will, after it was proved that about 300,000 citizens of other provinces have been added to the registers of the Ministry of Commerce.”
The records of the Ministry of Commerce for food rations per each Iraqi family are relied upon by the Independent High Election Commission IHEC for voter registration.
The two communities believe that the increase in the 300,000 people has caused demographic changes in the voter registration in the province, in the interest of a one ethnicity, without explaining the evidence for the increase in the 300,000 people.
The addition of 300,000 people has caused demographic changes in the province's voter registry
Both the Arab and Turkmen communities have called on the factions and forces of the Iraqi parliament to maintain Article 35 of the provincial council election law during the amendment.
The Northern, oil-rich province of Kirkuk, Iraq’s second largest reserves, located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, is an ethnically mixed province for 1.7 million Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens. It has long been at the center of disputed territories between Baghdad and the Erbil.
What is Article 35?
Article 35 is an article in the Iraqi Provincial Council Elections Law No. 12 of 2018, which is currently being amended by the Iraqi parliament.
Part of Law No. 12 of 2018, within the framework of Article 35, is devoted to elections in Kirkuk and sets several conditions and procedures, the article consists of eight articles.
It is a provision for the coordination of the Election Commission with the relevant ministries to verify the voter registration. Another paragraph of the same article states that the provincial council will establish a procedure for the distribution of senior positions in Kirkuk after the elections, except for federal positions, these positions will be for the people of the province, if they meet the legal requirements.
Another provision of the article states that the election results will not lead to any administrative and legal changes related to the future of Kirkuk.
Article 35 also states that the commission is obliged to audit and compare the voter register of Kirkuk province between the food form and civil status identification, it is explained that "any name is not in both, it will be deleted from the register. The provision stipulates that the comparison must be made by December 31, 2020, two years and six months ago, but this has not been done.
In another paragraph of the same article, the Election Commission is obliged to take the necessary measures in accordance with the applicable guidelines for the separation and manual counting of votes in the appealed polling stations.
After dozens of meetings between the factions and representatives of the communities in Kirkuk province in the Iraqi parliament, Article 35 was approved.
However, Omid Mohammed, a member of the Iraqi parliament from the New Generation faction and a representative of Kirkuk province, said Monday, March 20, during the amendment “We adjourned the session until the article was removed,” he said, without giving any explanation as to how the article was removed because the entire amendment has not yet been approved.
According to the permanent constitution of Iraq, Arabic and Kurdish are the two official languages of the country, and both Turkmen and Syriac are official languages in the administrative units where those ethnicities live.
Kurds were holding the senior position in Kirkuk including governor of Kirkuk up to October 2017 when the Iraqi troops ousted the Kurdish forces following declaration of victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL.
"I want to announce the good news that the provincial council elections will be held on November 6 without any obstacles and conditions," Shakhawan Abdullah, the second deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament from the Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP, said.
The provincial council elections will be held in Kirkuk on November 6 without any obstacles or conditions
Two days after the speech, both Arab and Turkmen communities in a press conference in Kirkuk stressed that "the factions and parties must protect the remaining Article 35 of the law, which b consensus of all communities was to correct the electoral process in Kirkuk.
The Arab Council and the United Turkmen Front, each won only one seat in the last Iraqi parliamentary elections in Kirkuk, have warned against "playing with the security and stability of Kirkuk" and the coexistence in the province.
"We call for the people of Kirkuk to be allowed to exercise their democratic rights through fair elections, by auditing the voter register and reorganizing the composition of the Kirkuk office of the Election Commission, which has been occupied by a nation since 2005." Without mentioning the nation.