Kurdistan Region Confirms Parliamentary Polls for Next Month

By HEVIDAR AHMED – 27.8.2013 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Parliamentary elections in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region will go ahead without delay next month, the Iraqi election commission has announced, ending months of dispute among Kurdish parties over apparent irregularities in the lists of registered voters.

The polls, planned for September 21, will be held on the set date “without an hour of delay,”Serbast Mustafa, head of the commission in Kurdistan, announced last week. “Every preparation has been made and official campaigning will set off on August 28,” he added. There had been serious doubts about the date of the elections, particularly since the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) – the ruling partner in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) together with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) — complained that voter lists included the names of many dead people. It urged the commission to resolve the irregularities before holding the polls.

All parties in the self-rule Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq welcomed the commission’s final decision, and have submitted lists of candidates.

According to Shwan Qilyasani, an official from the diplomatic office of the Change Movement (Gorran), the US consulate in Erbil is also eager for Kurdistan’s elections to take place on time. “The Americans told us that they would like to see the elections held on the decided date,” Qilyasani, who is also a Gorran candidate for parliament, told Rudaw. He added that the US consul general had met with Gorran leader Nawshirwan Mustafa, to reiterate Washington’s desire “for elections on time,” despite possible irregularities. PUK officials confirmed that officials from the US consulate in Erbil had met with Kosrat Rasul Ali, deputy secretary general of the party.

“What is important now is trouble-free campaigns and the parties’ focus on the future,” Qilyasani said. Earlier this month, KDP leaders had also expressed concern about possible postponement of the elections. “The KDP is fully ready and these elections are important for everyone,” KDP spokesperson Jaafar Ibrahim said after the commission’s announcement. The September vote will be hotly contested since the two ruling parties — who have run under a single banner in most previous elections – will be running separately in the upcoming polls.