Writing draft constitution is pretext for postponing elections: Kurdish opposition parties

Writing draft constitution is pretext for postponing elections: Kurdish opposition parties
3 min read
24 August, 2022
Kurdish ruling parties want to extend the mandate of the Kurdistan region, postpone the upcoming elections on preludes of writing a draft constitution, Kurdish opposition parties say.
The Kurdistan flag seen flying. [Getty]

Ruling parties in the Kurdistan region are exploiting the decision to write a draft constitution for the federal region of Iraq to extend the region's parliament life and postpone upcoming general elections, Kurdish opposition parties claim.

The presidency of the Kurdistan parliament on Tuesday met with the heads of the parliamentary blocs where they discussed ways for writing a draft constitution for the semi-autonomous region of northern Iraq and the region's general elections scheduled for 1 October.

Writing a draft constitution for the Iraqi Kurdistan region is a controversial issue and has been postponed several times since 1992 when the region's parliament declared federalism within the Iraqi state. Iraq's permanent constitution of 2005, admitted federalism for the region, accordingly, the Kurdish region has the right to write its constitution. However, the issue has been suspended due to conflicts among the Kurdish political parties.

According to a statement by the parliament, the parliament's legal committee should prepare a bill to form a special committee tasked with writing a draft constitution. 

Kawa Abdulqadir, head of the New Generation opposition bloc in the Kurdistan parliament, said in a press conference following the meeting that since the Kurdish assembly failed to write a draft constitution in the past four years, how can ruling parties write it within two remaining months of the life of this round of the legislature?

"The Kurdish ruling parties seek to postpone the region's parliamentary elections that is why they have brought about the constitution issue for now. We think debating this controversial issue in the meantime will only complicate it as this subject has been suspended several times in the past years," Abdulqadir said. "We think that the parliament's current priorities should be finding legal solutions regarding the region's electoral commission and elections law so parliamentary elections are held on time."    

A special source within the Change Movement, a ruling party in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), told The New Arab on condition of anonymity that the ruling parties want to extend the life of the parliament on the pretexts of writing a draft constitution. 

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Sherko Jawdat, head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union opposition party in the Kurdish parliament, said in a press conference that holding the elections must happen on time.

"We think prioritising the writing of a draft constitution is only a pretext for postponing the elections and extending the life of the parliament that will end by 5 November," Jawdat said. 

The Kurdistan region held parliamentary elections in September 2018, and by early November the parliament's mandate is expected to expire if the elections were officially postponed.

 The election witnessed a low turnout of 57 per cent and was marred with alleged large-scale voter fraud by the two main Kurdish ruling parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Special Representative Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, on 11 August expressed her concern that the Kurdish political parties should settle their differences as soon as possible so that a new date [for voting] can be chosen after the postponement of parliamentary elections.

The Kurdistan parliament includes 111 seats; women have a minimum quota of 30 per cent, while 11 seats are allocated for parties that represent minority groups.