Saturday, 22 October 2011, 12:15 GMT
Disagreements delay provincial elections
By The Globe

No agreement between government and electoral committee on provincial elections

While Kurdistan Region has its Parliament and government, the central government of Iraq still manages elections related to the Region. The draft law for the Kurdistan Region Independent Electoral Committee has been put on hold in Parliament after reviewing only four articles. The government has made no agreement with the committee concerning the law issue and planning a date for provincial council elections.

It has been a year since serious negotiations began about the establishment of the Kurdistan Region's Higher Electoral Committee, but no issues have been settled. Parliament was expected to pass the law under which a delegation would be assigned to select the seven to nine members of the committee. The committee will internally elect a chair for a period of one year, and this will be repeated every year.

Ali Qadir, chairman of the Region?s Higher Electoral Committee, who is under the auspice of the central government, believes the Region's committee will have same level of authority and power as the Iraqi one.

Because Kurdistan Region has some exclusive elections, including provincial council elections and Parliamentary elections, Qadir claims Kurdistan Region has the right to have its own electoral committee and the institutions established under its control would become more powerful than those elected or established by Baghdad.

If Kurdistan Region has its own Independent Electoral Committee, then the regional election costs will be covered by the Region's 17 percent budget share, but the costs of the national elections will be covered by the central government.

Although the Iraqi Higher Independent Electoral Committee is an independent entity in financial and administrative terms, the Iraqi Council of Representatives has the authority to question its actions.

According to Qadir, the Region's committee should also be completely independent, and Kurdistan Parliament should be the only entity that can question the committee.

At the beginning of the efforts for the establishment of the committee, it was discussed whether it would have complete independence, but political parties disagreed about whether it should be an independent entity and whether it should have representatives from all parties.

According to the information available to the public, only four articles of the draft law for the committee have been read and discussed in Parliament, and discussions were then put on hold.

The reason for the hold is said to be the disagreement of the opposition parties on the election of the members by the public. It is claimed that the opposition has requested political parties should reach a mutual agreement on selecting members of the committee to include members from all parties who have representation in Parliament.

It was originally decided that the Region's provincial council elections be held on Sept. 10, 2011 in the three Kurdish provinces of Erbil, Suleimaniya and Duhok. However, this has not yet been conducted and it is not clear when it is going to happen.

Judge Sardar Abdulkarim, member of the Commissionaires at the Higher Committee argues that the delay is because the election date was set before the legislation of the amendment to the election law.

This means there has been no agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Higher Independent Electoral Committee about the preparations needed for the process. Abdulkarim believes the issue is not the delay in passing the election law, but lack of planning by the KRG and lack of agreement with the committee.

The committee had previously announced it needs four months to prepare for the election process, but after the system was changed to a semi-open election, Qadir stated that they have discussed with the KRG that the process needs 170 to 180 days.

In 2005, the first provincial council elections were conducted nationally for 18 provinces. However, the second election was held in 2009 in only 14 provinces, which did not include Kirkuk and three Kurdistan Region provinces.