President of Iraq's Kurdistan region to delay parliamentary elections

President of Iraq's Kurdistan region to delay parliamentary elections
President of Iraqi Kurdistan Nechirvan Barzani is set to postpone the region’s Parliamentary elections by at least three months.
4 min read
01 May, 2024
According to Kurdish sources, the PUK is unwilling to accept further election delays and may consider withdrawing from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) as one possible option. [Getty]

The President of the Iraqi Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, will next week delay the region's long-overdue parliamentary elections which were set for 10 June, sources told The New Arab on Wednesday.

The move by Barzani comes after a demand from the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to delay the elections - initially set for early June - by at least three months, three well-informed Kurdistan sources told TNA.

The delay will hinder the probability of elections taking place soon as the mandate of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) would be close to expiring.

"The KDP will postpone the region’s parliamentary elections for three months through Barzani, however, the elections will not be held after that, because the mandate of Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission will expire following the delay," a Kurdish source close to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - a rival party to the KDP— told TNA on condition of anonymity.

"PUK will not accept delaying the elections, and one option is to withdraw from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), hence the region will be officially splintered into two separate administrations."

The Kurdistan Region was set to hold parliamentary elections on June 10 following a nearly two-year delay, after multiple postponements caused by disputes between political parties and pending legal cases related to the electoral process.

The PUK announced it will participate in the vote while the KDP remains set in its choice to boycott the election, despite numerous calls to reverse its decision.

The party claims a recent ruling by the Iraqi federal court on the minority quota seats and the division of the Region into four constituencies is "unconstitutional".

"Barzani will announce postponing the region’s parliamentary elections for October or November,"another source also close to the PUK, told TNA on condition of anonymity.

"Barzani in his recent visit to Baghdad has convinced the Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia al-Sudani and other political sides to postpone the elections," the source added. 

"The PUK will not accept delaying the elections, and will issue a string statement and will complain against the delay at Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court."

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KDP leader Masoud Barzani last week reiterated his party’s position that it will not take part in the elections unless the minority quota seats are restored.

"We will not take part in the elections without the participation of the minorities because depriving the minorities [of quota seats] is a threat to the historical values of our nation," Barzani then told a Christian delegation headed by Patriarch Mar Awa Royel of the Assyrian Church of the East, according to a statement from his office. 

Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), which is supervising the region's elections as per Iraq's top court, has made all the preparations for holding the vote in June.

A third Kurdish source said to TNA that the region’s president was scheduled to visit Iran and after returning to the region delay the elections via a formal presidential decree.

The source has also said that IHEC officials have told their employees to slow their arrangements as they also know the elections would not be held on time.  

The last parliamentary election held in the region was in September 2018.

Elections in Iraqi Kurdistan had initially been scheduled for late 2022, however, disputes between its two main parties, the KDP and the PUK, forced the assembly to extend its mandate until the end of 2023.

However, Iraq’s top court on May 23, 2023, ruled against extending the term of the Kurdistan region's parliament as contrary to the country's constitution, declaring the Kurdish legislature as terminated.

 The court also revoked Article 9 in the region's election law, which asserted that the Kurdistan region constitutes a single electoral constituency as "unconstitutional." The court mandated the division of the region into "at least four electoral constituencies."

Jumana Al-Ghalay, IHEC's spokesperson, in March, told TNA: "IHEC has made all preparations and ready to conduct the Kurdistan region's parliamentary elections on the scheduled date, 10 June, according to international standards."

She said that the number of eligible voters is three million,789000, and 360, from which nearly three million have registered their names at IHEC, including 60,000 youths eligible to vote for the first time.