Amid the backdrop of a fight against the Islamic State, the Kurdistan region of Iraq plans to hold an important vote to determine its direction on statehood. Earlier this month, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani announced that a long-awaited referendum on independence would be held Sept. 25, 2017. Importantly, the vote will not only take place within the borders of the Kurdistan region, but also within disputed territories that are now under de facto Kurdish control since their liberation from the Islamic State. Barzani has called for a referendum many times before, but this time an official date has been set and the vote will probably take place. An informal referendum passed overwhelmingly in the Kurdistan region in January 2005, and there is good reason to believe a positive result will be replicated in this year’s official process.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Iraq.
The Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government’s (KRG) President Masoud Barzani announced on June 7 that a referendum will be held in Iraqi Kurdistan on Sept. 25 this year. It will be a non-binding referendum — meaning that the proclamation of independence will be left to the discretion of the Kurdish leaders even if the outcome of the referendum is in favor of independence. An independent Kurdistan has always been an aspiration of many Kurds, be they in Iraq, Iran, Turkey or Syria. Barzani played his cards as cautiously as possible by not going too fast. This caution may be due to several reasons: The subsidies that he was receiving from Baghdad, being worried of solation in the international arena, advantages of holding various offices in Baghdad, etc. He kept saying that Kurds have their right to independence and that they will use it when the time comes.
Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Wednesday announced it would hold a referendum on independence, in a move the central government in Baghdad is likely to oppose strongly. “I am pleased to announce that the date for the independence referendum has been set for Monday, Sept. 25, 2017,” Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said on Twitter. Barzani’s assistant Hemin Hawrami tweeted that voting would take place in the disputed region of Kirkuk and three other areas also claimed by the central government; Makhmour in the north, Sinjar in the northwest and Khanaqin in the east. The president of Iraq’s ruling Shi’ite coalition told Reuters in April it would oppose a Kurdish referendum. Ammar al-Hakim especially warned the Kurds against any move to annex oil-rich Kirkuk. The referendum date was set after a meeting of Kurdish political parties chaired by Barzani, who heads the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Iraqi lawmakers voted yesterday to express their lack of acceptance in the answers provided by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission, who were being accused of helping some candidates to gain an unfair advantage over others seeking election. The chief executive of the Electoral Commission, Miqdad Al-Sharifi, now faces a no confidence vote that could see him lose his job, paving the way for a new commissioner. 119 lawmakers voted to express their dissatisfaction in the commissioner’s answers to the charges that the Commission was responsible for technical failures, counterfeit votes and fraud as well as corruption whilst administering previous elections, Al Jazeera reported.
Iraq’s official electoral commission on Sunday rejected proposals to allow the Hashd al-Shaabi, an umbrella group of pro-government Shia militias, to register itself as a political party in advance of elections slated for next year. The decision came one day after prominent Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr declared that the country’s next government would be a “government of militias” if the Hashd al-Shaabi were allowed to field candidates in provincial council and parliamentary polls slated for 2017 and 2018 respectively. In a Sunday statement, the commission said it had based its decision on the fact that the Hashd al-Shaabi constituted a “military organization with links to the [Iraqi] security agencies”.
The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) of Iraq has excluded the Kirkuk Governorate from Iraqi provincial elections, which will be held next year. This is the third time Kirkuk has been barred from provincial elections in Iraq. According to the IHEC, the decision is related to political issues in the city. Following the decision, Kirkuk Governor Najmadin Karim said during a press conference on Tuesday (August 9) that authorities would not allow election centers to be open for displaced people in the governorate. “The IHEC says electoral cards and election centers will be open for displaced people to vote for their representatives in Anbar, Nineveh, Diyala and Tikrit,” Karim said. “I want to inform residents of Kirkuk that no one will vote in Kirkuk in [the elections of] any other governorates if the people of Kirkuk are not allowed to participate in the elections.
A group of Iraqi legislators plans to submit a petition to the speaker of parliament requesting the deposition of executive council members of the Independent High Electoral Commission with an eye toward the commission’s dissolution. The group objects to the commission having been formed based on the quota system, as a result of members being nominated by the parliament, and thus in a corruptive manner. More than 100 members of parliament from the Al-Ahrar bloc, affiliated with the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Reform Front, close to former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, signed the petition July 19. The move, coming less than a year before local elections, seems to have become a ritual preceding every election. This time, the demand is being packaged as part of the ongoing push for political reforms. At a protest in Baghdad on July 15, Sadr, leader of the Sadrist movement, had called for the commission to be dismissed because of its basis in the partisan, sectarian quota system. He is calling for a technocratic electoral commission with members appointed by the judiciary, a proposal that would require new legislation.
An alliance headed by prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has been declared as having received the largest number of seats in Iraq’s elections last month, but many of his political opponents doubt the vote’s fairness and claim massive fraud. If proved, the allegations of irregularities and vote-rigging will cast shadows over the legitimacy of the new parliament elected on 30 April and may further worsen the decade-long political ructions and sectarian violence that have been largely blamed on the nation’s political class. Iraq’s Independent Higher Election Commission (IHEC) announced on Monday that al-Maliki’s State of Law Alliance had won 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats. His main rivals finished with between nine and 34 seats overall. Smaller blocs received between one and six seats. A potential new prime minister would need the support of a total of 165 members. Negotiations to build a coalition to form a new government will likely drag on for weeks, if not months, observers say.
A coalition led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won the most seats in the country’s first parliamentary elections since U.S. troops left in 2011, setting the stage for a lengthy period of political wrangling amid the worst violence since the civil war. Mr. Maliki’s State of Law coalition won 92 out of 328 parliamentary seats in the elections held in late April, three more seats than it won in 2010, the Iraqi High Election Commission said Monday, putting the Iraqi leader in a strong position to secure a third term. The result left many Iraqis wondering whether another four years under Mr. Maliki, a Shiite Muslim, would deepen the sectarian rancor and extend a political stalemate that has left the government adrift. Western diplomats and analysts say that further instability would also add to the region’s political maelstrom; Syria’s civil war has spilled over into Iraq.
As the Independent Higher Electoral Commission (IHEC) continues the difficult task of counting Iraqis’ votes, the post-election political scene remained fractured as parties began the potentially lengthy process of forming a coalition that will then form a government. Speaking to reporters one day after the elections, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki repeated claims that his State of Law coalition had secured victory, adding that he had already secured enough support to build a coalition government. Maliki’s allies had earlier claimed that the State of Law coalition had secured at least 90 seats in parliament, and the prime minister had told reporters that “we have an ability to pass the 165 seat mark,” the threshold required to form a majority government.