Arab and Turkmen parties threaten to bring its supporters to the streets in case the electoral commission in Kirkuk disregards their calls for reforms including right of voting for 50,000 people in unstable regions.
On July 29th, senior members of Arab Alliance and the Iraq Turkmen Front ITF, two of the leading parties of Arab and Turkmen communities, held a press conference at the doors of Kirkuk office of the Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC.
They said about 50,000 voters northwest of Kirkuk might lose the chance of voting as their ballot IDs are pending and no ballot stations allocated in their volatile region.
“The IHEC have failed to find a solution for that issue for the election day,” said Hatam al-Ta’i, spokesman of Arab front in Kirkuk.
According to electoral districts of Kirkuk, those voters have the right to vote only in their allocated districts which they left for Kirkuk city center.
“Their villages have been destroyed in the fight against Daesh and have not been rebuilt,” he added.
“These areas are unstable and voters can’t go there but Kirkuk officials of IHEC say its stable and the ballot stations are secured. Besides, it has taken over 50,000 voting IDs in order to deprive them of voting.
Besides, it has taken over 50,000 voting IDs in order to deprive them of voting.
Both parties called on Iraqi presidencies, council of ministers and the parliament and IHEC to meet its demands, “or we are obliged to hold public demonstrations and stir public opinion with part of Kurdish community harmed by this step.”
Video: Pess conferenc by Turkmens & Arabs in Kirkuk on July 29th calling on Baghdad & the UN to stop changes in Kirkuk IHEC.
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.
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 in 2018 elections.
Jawdat Zalal, in charge of electoral affairs of the Turkmen front, said they reject latest changes by IHEC in Kirkuk. “We call to revoke it as competent officers were moved to small ballot stations, a move n the interest of the party forged 2018 elections.”
Competent officers were moved to small ballot stations, a move n the interest of the party forged 2018 elections
The Arab political council and Iraqi Turkmen Front ITF, accused the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK, of fraud in 2018 yet it was denied by the PUK and the IHEC finally endorsed the results.
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.
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.
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.
16 Kurdish parties on June 8th in a joint statement declared their consent about the late replacements in IHEC Kirkuk office, rejected the accusations of taking over senior positions and decision making in the IHEC Kirkuk office for years.
Mohammed Othman, a PUK leader in Kirkuk, said “the Kurds make only 25 % of IHEC positions in Kirkuk while it should be over 50% since Kurds compose 60% of Kirkuk population.”
Footage of the press conference held in Kirkuk on June 8 by 16 Kurdish parties.
“We reject press releases by some Arab & Turkmen parties we consider as interference in IHEC affairs,” he added.
Lou'ai Arkan, the new director of Kirkuk office of IHEC, rejected the claims by the Arab and Turkmens.
“Their information is not true. No one will be deprived of voting. Those areas are safe and the ballot stations are open. Only one station in the village of Mala Abdullah was shut since there were only nine families there,” Arkan told KirkukNow.
“Only 100 voting IDs is suspended by IHEC because of repetition of the names. I assure you their story about 50,000 IDs is incorrect.”
Only 100 voting IDs is suspended by IHEC because of repetition of the names
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.
Kirkuk joint operations’ command is an umbrella for security forces running the security of Kirkuk, including Iraqi army, local and federal police, Brigade 61 of Special Forces along with Popular Mobilization Forces PMF.
The acting governor, an Arab, is in office to replace the former Kurdish governor, a position the Kurds were occupying for years.