KDP rejects unilateral ballot boxes; PUK affirms commitment to scheduled elections

KDP rejects unilateral ballot boxes; PUK affirms commitment to scheduled elections

Shafaq News / Ari Harsin, head of the Fourth Branch Official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in a-Sulaymaniya, expressed skepticism on Saturday about the prospect of holding the Regional Parliamentary elections, scheduled for June 10, without his party's participation.

Harsin stated, "We all know that placing a ballot box in one part of the Kurdistan Region is the official announcement of two administrations."

"The KDP is not against elections and the democratic process, but its stance is against premeditated planning before the elections."

On the other hand, Ziyad Jabar, a leader in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), affirmed that the PUK is committed to the decision of the President of the Kurdistan Region and the Independent High Electoral Commission to hold the parliamentary elections in Kurdistan on the scheduled date.

"We did not participate in any meeting to postpone the elections in the Region, and we will not participate in any future meeting on this matter," Jabar added. 

In March 2023, the KDP decided to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan Region, warning of potential withdrawal from Iraq's political process if the State Administration Coalition (SAC) fails to adhere to agreed-upon terms.

The SAC coalition was established following Muqtada Al-Sadr's withdrawal from politics. It is comprised mainly of the KDP led by Masoud Barzani, the Sunni Sovereignty led by Khamis al-Khanjar, and the Iran-backed Shiite coalition forces (Coordination Framework). 

The coalition outlined goals such as combating corruption, implementing reforms, rebalancing Iraq's regional relations, revising the electoral commission system, and promoting consensus among Iraqi factions.

The KDP's Political Bureau released a statement, urging the SAC parties to "fulfill their national responsibilities by upholding the constitution and honoring all provisions of the political and administrative agreement governing the current government led by Mohammed Shia al-Sudani." Underscoring that "continuing in the political process under the current conditions would be untenable for the KDP."

In addition, the statement denounced the decisions made by the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court regarding the Kurdistan Region elections. 

Last February, Iraq's Supreme Court issued rulings related to the Kurdistan Region's election law.

The court declared that a specific article concerning the minority quota in KRG's provincial election law was deemed "unconstitutional." This article, part of a law initially adopted in 1992 and revised in 2013, mandates 11 quota seats in the Regional parliament for ethnic and religious minorities. In response, the Turkmen (a minority) withdrew from the elections.

Furthermore, the verdict stated that Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission will take over from KRG's electoral commission to supervise parliamentary elections, which are anticipated to occur next June.

The decision also divided Kurdistan into four constituencies, Al-Sulaymaniya, Erbil, Duhok, and Halabja, instead of the single-constituency system in previous elections. 

Notably, Kurdistan's autonomy is protected by the Iraqi constitution, ratified in 2005, ensuring the political and economic rights of approximately six million residents in the Kurdistan Region. Nonetheless, there has been a significant lack of trust between the Kurdistan Region and the central government in Baghdad in recent years, mainly regarding elections, oil exports, and salaries of Kurdish employees.

One of the main issues that could empower the federal government is the political division in Kurdistan.

The Region predominantly governs KDP, yet the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) wields considerable influence in the Region's political and military realms.

Although the KDP and PUK are partners in SAC, their relationship has been strained for years, primarily concerning power and revenue distribution issues.

The recent court ruling in Iraq stemmed from legal actions by Kurdish political factions opposed to the KDP's dominance in politics within the Kurdistan Region. However, PUK's member, Burhan Saeed, stated, "The PUK is fully prepared to participate in the upcoming June elections and is committed to the date announced by President Barzani."

Addressing the decisions of the Federal Supreme Court and their implications on the Region's entity, Saeed emphasized, "We believe that the decisions of the Federal Supreme Court are in the interest of the Region and its people and do not affect Kurdistan's entity and constitutionality."

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