PUK-KDP at Odds over Voter Registration Lists in Kurdistan Region

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – 10.8.2013 – The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), one of the two ruling parties in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, is demanding that irregularities in voter lists be resolved before the next parliamentary elections, even if it means that the polls must be delayed.

The PUK’s insistence goes against the wishes of its ruling partner, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which says the polls should go ahead as planned in September. It also puts the PUK in the camp of the opposition groups, which suspect that the irregularities – which MPs say include the names of deceased citizens and identical names that appear more than once – favor the KDP. In its last session, the PUK heavily criticized the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and demanded “legal action to tackle the issue, because an unclear registration list will raise doubts about the validity of the elections.”

It criticized the IHEC, saying that, even after receiving reports about problems “there is no sign of action by the IHEC.”

IHEC President Sarbast Amedi announced that, “Any legal complaint will most probably delay the election.” Shoresh Ismael, the head of PUK election office said that, “if IHEC does not solve the problem, we will submit a complaint to the court.”

KDP spokesman Jaafar Eminki said that, “The issue of registered voters is overly exaggerated. We have doubts about such efforts because the focus is only on Erbil and Duhok voters. We think this is unfair,” he added.“The postponement of the election will be blamed on the party that causes it,” he warned. Saadi Pira, member of PUK politburo responded by saying his party was happy to take the blame for any delay. “We will be fine with postponing the parliamentary elections,” he said, adding that they could be held jointly with local elections in November. The KDP believes that it will win 42 seats in the 111-seat parliament in the next elections, and Eminki expressed concerns over accusations related to registered voters aimed at his party. “We firmly deny all accusations whether they come from the opposition groups or our ally, PUK,” he said.