The Iraqi Kurdistan region (IKR) is expected to hold general elections by September as the president of the semi-autonomous region is expected to set the date of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections before May, sources said to The New Arab.
Parliamentary elections in the IKR were supposed to be held last year, but the elections were postponed following disagreements among the political parties over the current electoral law and the electoral commission.
Consequently, in October, the Kurdistan parliament extended the parliament's four-year term until the end of 2023.
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani said last week in Erbil that fresh elections should be held this year, indicating that the delay in having elections already harmed the region's reputation.
"The parliamentary elections in the Kurdistan region will be held in September," an official source within one of the ruling parties that run the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) told TNA on condition of anonymity.
The last parliamentary election, held in September 2018, saw a turnout of 57 per cent and was marred by allegations of large-scale voter fraud by the two main ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) - which dominates Erbil and Duhok provinces - and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - that controls Sulaimaniyah and Halabja provinces.
The two parties have often accused each other of creating obstacles causing the delays.
"The KDP and the PUK will soon reach an agreement on their issues about the elections," the source added.
Dilshad Shahab, a senior advisor to the Kurdistan region president, told Rudaw, "Barzani will set a date for the vote before May."
"The current parliament expires on 31 December, and the most suitable period for the elections is between mid-October and mid-November," Shahab added.
Handren Mohammed, the head of the Kurdistan Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission, whose mandate has already expired, in a phone interview with TNA, said, "We have the time to hold the elections in 2023 if the parliament to deal with the legal issues of the upcoming elections, especially re-authorising the commission oversee the upcoming election, yes we can run the elections this year according to the standards."
He also said that it is up to the parliament to reactivate the current election commission or appoint a new commission. "I support the option of the Kurdistan parliament to establish a new and experienced election commission. Another option is appointing judges as commissioners," Mohammed noted.
He also indicated that they could depend on their electoral voter lists or use the biometric voter list that was used by Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) in the early parliamentary elections held on October 10, 2021.
United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert convened a meeting last year with the Kurdish political parties and asked them to settle their differences and hold elections as soon as possible.
Currently, the Kurdish political parties have reached initial understandings for the Kurdistan Parliament to amend the election law to divide the region into at least four electoral constituencies, however, dividing the quota of the minorities among the region's four provinces remains the main issue.
The minorities, supported by the KDP, are refusing their quota to be divided.