Arabs, Turkmens in Kirkuk call for election delay

Iraqi election commission officials open ballot boxes to count votes in the capital Baghdad, on May 8, 2014, following the country’s general elections. (AFP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Arabs and Turkmens in Kirkuk called on Wednesday for a delay to the planned October parliamentary election due to “administrative violations”.

Representatives of Arabs and Turkmens in Kirkuk said the parliamentary elections should be delayed for several weeks due to violations in the offices of the independent high electoral commission.

“There are administrative violations in the electoral commission’s offices and work is done for parties’ agenda,” they said in a press conference.

Iraq is scheduled to hold early elections on October 10, in response to the anti-government protests against corruption and lack of public services.

The previous parliamentary elections in Iraq were held on May 12, 2018, and the next elections were originally scheduled to take place in 2022.

More than 220 U.N. and EU observers are expected to monitor the elections, IHEC member Imad Jamil said last week.

The European Union and the United Nations hoped last week that voting would not be tainted by fraud and abstention.

“Our purpose is to do whatever we can in order that the electoral process be as good as possible,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a news conference in Baghdad.

AFP cited Borrell as saying that the EU observer mission for the October 10 election would be in Iraq a month before polling day and would stay for another month afterwards.

The U.N. top representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, told a separate news conference that the world body would also deploy a large monitoring team.

“In fact this is one of the U.N.’s largest electoral assistance projects worldwide with five times as many U.N. personnel as in 2018,” she said.

Hennis-Plasschaert urged Iraqis not to boycott the vote, which she hoped would be “credible”, and called on “political forces and candidates to collectively refrain from any attempt to force or distort election resources”.

Past elections in Iraq have been marred by violence and vote-buying.

In the most recent legislative election in 2018, the turnout was 44.52 percent, an official figure that many believe was inflated.

Calls to boycott the vote have increased as the election draws closer, especially among young people who accuse political parties in Iraq of covering up and even encouraging political violence.

An early general election was one of the promises made by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to try to meet the demands of the demonstrators.

A new electoral law also came into force last year, its aim being to break the monopoly held by blocs of parties that share power, and promote independent candidates instead.

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