Monday, 11 June 2012, 07:30 GMT
Date of Provincial Council elections still not set
By The Kurdish Globe
By Hemen Baban

Faraj Haidari: We can hold early parliamentary elections in six months

Head of the Iraqi Independent Higher Electoral Commission (IHEC) Faraj Haidari announced that if their period in office is extended and they were granted a sufficient budget, they could organize early parliamentary elections in accordance with the elections law.

Haidari told the Globe that the current political situation in Iraq was unstable and that the problems were becoming deeper.

"Our term expires in one and a half months, and if a new commission is assigned it would be much better," explained Haidari. "Even if this is not done, and there is a need for an early election, we are ready to do that if we are asked to do so and our term is extended."

Haidari explained the factors behind the delays in holding the provincial council elections on time during a press conference in the Erbil Office of the IHEC, and stated that they had requested the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Kurdish Parliament to abide by the amendments and modifications in the elections law, but they had not done that, including the amendment to paragraph 5 of Article 32 of the law that states the minorities shall only vote for candidates from their own minority groups. "This is absolutely against all the international standards and human rights" he warned.

Other factors behind the delays, according to Haidari, included the current political problems in the country, his arrest by the Iraqi government, the investigations and court proceeding of 300 employees of the IHEC and failure to establish an electoral commission for the Kurdistan Region.

"Even our guards were questioned," added Haidari. "They accused me of receiving a commission of IQD 150,000 [approximately USD120], my house was impounded and I was locked inside my house. Then my case was submitted to the court of crimes and I was freed after paying a guarantee of IQD 15 million."

Qassim Aboodi, Administration Manager of the IHEC, said that it is not yet clear when the election is going to be held.

"The parliament should first approve the amendments and then the government decides on the date of the election," explained Aboodi.

Regarding the establishment of the Kurdistan Region's Electoral Commission, Haidari explained that until now 60 candidates have registered for the membership of the commission, and according to an article in the commission's draft law, which has been agreed upon by the parliamentary blocs, the commission will have 9 members.

Bayan Noori, Head of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) Electoral Committee, refuted Haidari's statements and argued that there are political factors behind the delays in holding the provincial election.

"The election was supposed to be held in January 2009, but it has been postponed several times," stated Noori outlining why she doesn't believe Haidari's statements.

Adnan Osman, Member of Parliament on the opposition Gorran Bloc and member of the legal committee in the parliament, also had doubt about the arguments put forward by Haidari and Aboodi, stating that if the only issue is the issue of the minorities, this could be solved in one week, "why should they postpone the election for several months due to this issue"?

MP Osman argues that the main reason for the postponements is that the political parties in power are not ready for an election that may alter the political balance.

"The elections should also be held on the level of the districts and subdistricts after amending the councils' law and expanding their authorities," added MP Osman.