Nearly 65 thousand Kurds in the multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk, whose votes were at risk of loss, are now eligible to vote after the Iraqi federal court dissolved two articles which were earlier proposed within amendments to the provincial elections law.
On November 12th, The court ruled that three articles in the first amendment were unconstitutional after the Kurdistan Region’s Parliament filed an appeal against the amendments which could have deprived some 65,000 Kurds, including IDPs, from practicing their right to vote.
According to article 12 of the law, which has been cancelled, the Independent High Electoral Commission is committed to checking voters’ food ration cards matched with their personal status ID; if they were not both registered in Kirkuk, the voter would be regarded ineligible.
Around 12 to 15 thousand ethnic Kurds, whose food ration cards have been transferred to Kirkuk, yet their civil status records are still in Kurdistan Region provinces. According to the article these could have been denied the right to vote in the upcoming elections.
Earlier, Shamsaddin Karim, head of the elections office at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)’s organizational center in Kirkuk indicated that "the Kurds will lose 12 to 15 thousand votes votes in Kirkuk, if article 12 is implemented.”
“Under the former Ba’th regime the personal status records of thousands of Kirkuk Kurds were transferred to districts in the environs of the city within the regime’s Arabization campaign; some of these districts were later annexed to the Kurdistan Region,” he explained.
It would be very difficult to persuade those who fled following the October 16, 2017 events to return on the voting day
The abolition of another article in the provincial elections law will restore the right to vote for more than 50 thousand Kurdish IDPs, who according to the article should have returned to their home areas in order to vote.
As many as 50 thousand Kurds have fled Kirkuk to Kurdistan Region provinces following the October 16, 2017 events, according to statistics by the PUK’s elections office.
“More than 50 thousand Kurds have not returned to Kirkuk since October 16, 2017, and it would be very difficult to persuade them to return on the voting day in order to participate in the elections,” the PUK official had earlier told KirkukNow.
The Iraqi federal court also ruled that article 3 and article 17 of the law were unconstitutional.
Article 3 stipulates that voters should carry biometric voter ID cards which is the only document needed to allow voters to participate, unless less than 75% of the residents in a particular electoral constituency have obtained the voter ID cards.
Meanwhile, article 17 commits all government employees to renew their voter ID cards.
On Tuesday, November 12, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's media office said in a brief statement that the cabinet decided at its weekly meeting to postpone the elections from next April to a date to be determined later.
The decision to delay the provincial elections now awaits the approval of the parliament.