Kurdish MP asks Iraq's top court to revoke minorities seats in Kurdistan parliament

Kurdish MP asks Iraq's top court to revoke minorities seats in Kurdistan parliament
A Kurdish MP in the Iraqi Council of Representatives requested Iraq's Supreme Federal Court to revoke the allocation of 11 quota seats for minorities in the Kurdistan parliament.
4 min read
03 May, 2023
An Iraqi Kurdish man holds a Kurdish flag as he stands next to Kurdistan's parliament building in Erbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on 15 September 2017. [Getty]

An Iraqi lawmaker on Tuesday filed a legal case at Iraq's Supreme Federal Court to cancel the allocation of 11 quota seats for the minorities in the Kurdistan parliament.

"Today at the Iraqi Supreme Federal Court via the complaint number 85/federal/2023, I filed a legal case against the seats of the minorities in the Kurdistan parliament for annulling the legal article which the parliament has given 11 seats for the Turkmen, Christians, and Armenian minorities. I leave the details for the proceedings," Soran Omar, a Kurdish lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament from the Islamic Justice Group (IJG), wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. 

The semi-autonomous northern region of Iraq held general elections on 30 September 2018.  Fresh elections were scheduled for 1 October 2022, yet, the regional parliament voted to extend its term for one year amid disagreements between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) regarding electoral constituency boundaries and the quota of the minorities.  

On 26 March, the region’s presidency set 18 November as the date for fresh elections to the 111-seat legislature. 

The KDP is often accused of manipulating the minorities' quota through a carrot-and-stick policy. In all past elections held in the region, all 11 seats were allocated to Erbil province, while there are minority populations in other Kurdish provinces.

The PUK has asked that four seats should be allocated for the minorities in areas under its de facto control, mainly in Sulaimaniyah province.

The court's decisions are final and binding for all authorities across the country. The court is also expected to pronounce its decision tomorrow on whether the extension of the Kurdistan parliament for a year was constitutional.

The New Arab contacted Omar, but he was not immediately available to comment. 

Kurdistan Parliament Secretary Muna Qahwachi, from Turkmen Reform Party, told TNA that she rejects all attempts to deny the rights of the minorities in the Kurdistan region. 

For his part, Romeo Huzairan Nisan, head of the National Unity Alliance bloc, which has three Christian seats, said to TNA, "The complaint against the rights of the minorities itself means [the complainer] does not believe in democracy, coexistence and accepting the non-Kurdish minorities in the Kurdistan region, marginalising their rights."

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The spokesperson of the KDP bloc in the Kurdish assembly, Peshawa Hawramani, in a press conference, alleged that the PUK "does not want parliamentary elections to be held in the region, thus the party through the parliament's speaker has blocked all efforts for reaching compromises in order the elections to be held this year." 

In response, Ziyad Jabbar, head of PUK's bloc in the Kurdistan parliament, said in statements to his party's media outlets that over the last two years his bloc has tried to reach an agreement for amending the region's elections law but failed. He said they have filed a complaint at Iraq's Supreme Federal Court against the one-constituency boundary set in the region's election law, and voter lists in the Kurdistan region that are different from voter lists available at Iraq's planning ministry.   

The former speaker of the Iraqi Kurdistan region parliament Yousuf Mohammed Sadiq, the president of the New Generation Movement (NGM) opposition party Shaswar Abulwahid, NGM's lawmaker in the Iraqi parliament Sirwa Abdulwahid and GM's MP in the Kurdish assembly Kawa Abdulqadir have all filed separate legal cases at Iraq's Supreme Federal Court against the speaker of the Kurdistan region's parliament Rewaz Fayaq and the president of Kurdistan region Nechirvan Barzani.

The plaintiffs argue that the extensions of the parliament, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Presidency are contrary to articles five and twenty of the Iraqi constitution, the principles of democracy and holding fair elections every four years according to Article 51 of the Kurdistan region's election Law 1 of 1992. Hence, they asked the court to revoke the extensions and oblige the Kurdish authorities to hold general elections soon.

According to the court's website, 3 May has been set as the date for announcing the decision in the legal cases. However, today's legal suits raised by Omar and the PUK might be an attempt by the PUK to make the court adjourn its final decision on the extension.

If the court decides that the parliament's extension was illegal and unconstitutional, then all authorities of the parliament’s speaker will be assumed by the president of the Kurdistan region who is from the KDP.