Posted on August 10, 2016 by Editorial Staff in Kirkuk, Politics
Kirkuk city, Iraq. Photo: AFP
BAGHDAD,— The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq has excluded the Kirkuk Governorate from Iraqi provincial elections, which will be held next year.
This is the third time Kirkuk has been barred from provincial elections in Iraq. According to the IHEC, the decision is related to political issues in the city.
Following the decision, Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Karim said during a press conference on Tuesday that authorities would not allow election centers to be open for displaced people in the governorate.
“The IHEC says electoral cards and election centers will be open for displaced people to vote for their representatives in Anbar, Nineveh, Diyala and Tikrit,” Karim said. “I want to inform residents of Kirkuk that no one will vote in Kirkuk in [the elections of] any other governorates if the people of Kirkuk are not allowed to participate in the elections.
Arab and Turkmen blocs in the Kirkuk Provincial Council are still determined to record statistics in the governorate, saying the rate of Kurds has increased since 2003.
Turkmen member of Kirkuk the Provincial Council, Najat Hussein, told NRT that they favor the election but statistics should be researched to find out who qualifies as a resident of Kirkuk.
“Before the fall of the Baath Regime, hundreds of thousands of Arabs [were in Kirkuk] but after the fall of the Baath regime, the number of Kurds increased,” Hussein said. “The Kurds really from Kirkuk participate in the election.”
In order to reverse the IHEC’s decision, blocs in the Kirkuk Provincial Council will have to vote on a solution that will allow the governorate to participate in the election.
The head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, Rebwar Talabani, told NRT the council cannot overrule the decision but the Iraqi Parliament is able to do so.
“The council is only able to refuse the IHEC’s decision if we have an alternative,” Talabani added. “That alternative will require votes from all council members.”
There has been only one provincial election in the governorate of Kirkuk over the last 15 years. It is unclear what influence the administration in Kirkuk and Kurdish parties will have to change the decision.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the most disputed areas by the Kurdistan regional government and the Iraqi government in Baghdad.
The Kurds are seeking to integrate Kirkuk province into the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regionclaiming it to be historically a Kurdish city. The population is a mix of majority Kurds and minority of Arabs, Christians and Turkmen.
Kurds have a strong cultural and emotional attachment to Kirkuk, which they call “the Kurdish Jerusalem.” Kurds see it as the rightful and perfect capital of an autonomous Kurdistan state.
The Kurds took full control of Kirkuk in August 2014 as the Iraqi army collapsed in the north and Islamic State militants overran almost a third of the country.