PKK-linked candidates in Sinjar to run in Iraq elections, says official
Candidates with links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have been approved to run in Iraq’s parliamentary elections for a constituency that includes the Yazidi town of Sinjar, officials have told The New Arab’s Arabic-language service.
Sinjar, the heartland of the Yazidi ethnoreligious group, has been home to a host of militia groups including the PKK since the invasion of Sinjar by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group, who persecuted the Yazidis because of their non-Islamic faith.
Seven candidates with links to the PKK will be able to run for the Sinjar constituency in the elections set for October, an unnamed Iraqi official told The New Arab's Arabic service.
The candidates come from various Yazidi political groups, both well-established and newly formed, the official said.
"The electoral commission bears the responsibility of passing a number of candidates politically and ideologically linked to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which is classified as a terrorist group by a number of countries," the official said.
The PKK took up arms almost four decades ago to fight for autonomy or independence for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. Over 40,000 people have been killed in the on-off war between Ankara and the PKK.
The group is considered a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the European Union.
Turkey has pursued the PKK in Iraqi Kurdistan, using air strikes and ground invasions. Some fear that a PKK presence in Sinjar, a part of federal Iraq, will make it a Turkish target.
Mahma Khalil, one of Sinjar’s two mayors, told The New Arab's Arabic service that the electoral commission should not approve the candidacy of those "with corrupt political money” or “support from outside Iraq ''.
"The city of Sinjar does not tolerate any political conflicts funded from abroad, carrying out subversive goals and preventing the implementation of Baghdad's decisions," Khalil said.
Cemil Bayik, a co-founder of the PKK, told The New Arab's Arabic service that the candidates have been accepted by Yazidis, “as they contain well-known personalities who have contributed to the liberation of Sinjar from IS and its protection over the past years."
Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government reached an agreement on the security and administrative control of Sinjar in October 2020, but little of the deal has actually been implemented.
The run-up to Iraq's parliamentary election has been marred by party boycotts and concerns over safety and corruption.