Kurdish parties agree with Electoral Commission replacements in Kirkuk

Kirkuk, June 8th, 2021- Mohammed Othman, in charge of Kirkuk office of PUK reading out the joint statement by the Kurdish parties in Kirkuk about replacements in the electoral commission. KirkukNow.

By KirkukNow

The Kurdish political parties in Kirkuk have declared their consent about the late replacements in Kirkuk office of the Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC despite their remarks.

The 16-parties joint statement declared in a joint conference on June 8th in Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK Kirkuk office, follows the objections by the Arab and Turkmen parties whom accused the Kurdish parties of taking over senior positions and decision making in the IHEC Kirkuk office for years.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP led by Masoud Barzani, decades ally of PUK, and the New Generation (Naway Nwe) opposition party in Kurdistan region have not joined the Kurdish parties in Kirkuk.

“Despite our remarks about the changes and replacement of Kirkuk office director, a Kurd, yet still we show full respect to IHEC and all its legal and administrative procedures for the sake of a transparent and integral election in Iraq,” said Mohammed Othman, in charge of PUK Kirkuk office.

Othman said Kurds make only 25 % of IHEC positions in Kirkuk while it should be over 50%. Kurds compose 60% of Kirkuk population, he added.

“We reject press releases by some Arab & Turkmen parties we consider as interference in IHEC affairs,” he added.

Out of 13 parliamentary seats, PUK won 6 seats in Kirkuk province, and 3 seats for each Arab and Turkmens and one quota seat for the Christians.

Kirkuk, 238 km north of Baghdad & Iraq's second largest oil reserves, is ethnically a mixed province for 1.2 million Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen. It has long been at the center of the disputed territories between Baghdad and the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government KRG.

On June 2nd, the IHEC made a series of changes in Kirkuk, a copy of the letter obtained by KirkukNow.

Director of IHEC in Kirkuk was replaced, beside managers for the departments of media, registry of voters, training, services, parties and candidate affairs, finance, law and administration.

Footage of the press conference held in Kirkuk on June 8th by 16 Kurdish parties.

 The Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF and the Arab Council reject the last changes in the senior positions of IHEC Kirkuk office and call for immediate revocation.

Hatam al-Ta'i, spokesperson for the Arab Council in Kirkuk, described IHEC changes in the joint statement declared in a press conference as "clear violation of the constitution" which made them hopeless.

Kurds were holding the position of IHEC director in the last rounds. Arabs and Turkmens always accuse the Kurds of fraud in elections as the Kurds were holding grip over power in the oil-rich city up to 2017 when Iraqi troops ousted the Kurdish forces following declaration of victory over the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria ISIS.

“Following October 16th 2017 events, Kurds lost 120 admin and security positions in Kirkuk, voluntarily or administratively,” Othman added.

Back in 2020, The Arab and Turkmen parties in Kirkuk rejected appointment of Sawsan Tayib as director of IHEC Kirkuk office, accusing her of involvement in 2018 parliamentary elections fraud in Kirkuk in favor of a political party.

The new electoral law ratified last November, a key demand of October 2019 demonstrators, changes each of the country’s 18 provinces into several electoral districts in order to prevent parties from running on unified lists, which has in the past helped them easily take all the seats in a specific province. Instead, the seats would go to whoever gets the most votes in the electoral districts.

The 329-member house of representatives was elected in May 2018. The vote is held every four years, but the protesters have been demanding early elections. The 12 seats of Kirkuk Northern Province are divided over three electoral districts.

The Kurdish parties are meeting on Wednesday June 9th about the public services in Kirkuk as people protest sharp raise in fees for private electricity supply and piles of garbage accumulated in the city “due to lack of funds from Baghdad.”

NGOs of the Kurdish parties in Kirkuk met in follow up for the poor public services in Kirkuk. Hassan Hussein, in charge of Kurdistan communist party organizations said they want to act as a monitor over Kirkuk administration and the markets.

“Regarding wide public protests, Hussein said it has to do with the stands of the Kurdish parties due to meet next Saturday.

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