Iraqi Kurdistan parliament extends own mandate by one year as election shelved
Opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan are up in arms over their parliament's decision to extend its mandate for another year after elections planned for earlier this month fell through.
The Kurdistan Parliament said 80 of 111 MPs voted in favour of the extension, to last until "late 2023", after a general election scheduled for 1 October was postponed due to disagreements among the political parties on key issues, including how the region be divided up for the vote.
Opposition lawmakers condemned Iraqi Kurdistan's three ruling parties - the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and the Change Movement (Gorran) - for voting to extend the parliament's mandate.
"We were against the decision of the illegal extension which was passed with the overwhelming votes of lawmakers from the ruling parties," Sipan Amedi, a lawmaker from the New Generation opposition party told The New Arab in a phone interview.
"We would boycott all sessions of the parliament from 6 November, when the [parliament’s mandate] expires."
Lawmakers from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), another Kurdish opposition party, on 13 October announced their resignation to protest the extension.
"We have boycotted the voting on the illegal extension of the region’s parliament. Today we announce our resignation, since people have voted for us for a period of only four years," Sherko Jawdat, head of the KIU parliamentary bloc said at a press conference.
"We hope all the other factions will follow our step... We think any MP who stays in parliament beyond 6 November has committed treason against the trust of his or her voters."
The Kurdistan Justice Group (KJG), another Islamic opposition party, have said they would announce soon whether they would resign or stay in parliament.
The Kurdistan Parliament and the three ruling parties say they want to use the additional year to discuss a draft for a long-sought constitution for the region.
But the move to delay will likely further alienate Iraqi Kurdistan's voters.
The last parliamentary election, held in September 2018, witnessed a low turnout of 57% and was marred by alleged large-scale voter fraud by the KDP and the PUK, the two main rival parties that have their own security forces.
Both parties have been accused of exploiting government institutions for partisan election campaigns.