Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Kurds Walk Out Over Provincial Election Law Debate

The Voices of Iraq reported yesterday July 14 that parliament had agreed to postpone the vote on the election law from Tuesday July 15 to Thursday July 17. Today, when parliament opened, the election law was still on the floor, and the Kurds walked out in protest. Their allies, the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance met with them afterwards to try to smooth things over and allow the session to go forward. The Kurds are unhappy about how the law deals with Kirkuk.

Currently there are two proposals on voting in the disputed region. One is to divide the city up amongst the three major groups in the city, Kurds, Arabs and Turkoman. Each would get 32% of the provincial council seats, while the rest would go to other minorities such as Christians. The other idea is to have the city count as one district. The Arab and Turkoman parties from Kirkuk, along with 110 members of parliament support the former idea, while the Kurds have advocated for the latter because they believe there is a Kurdish majority in the city. In May 2008, the Kurds stormed out of parliament over the exact same dispute, and they have called on delaying voting in Kirkuk until the city’s future is resolved in the past as well. This argument remains the major stumbling block to passing the election law, and one that does not have an easy solution. The whole process could be held up indefinitely until it is resolved.

SOURCES

Abdul-Zahra, Qassim, “Iraqi politicians squabble over election law,” Associated Press, 5/26/08

Alsumaria, “Iraq Kirkuk proposal on elections debated,” 6/7/08
- “New alliance ahead of Kirkuk elections,” 6/27/08

Jam, Kawa, “Delay of provincial council elections sought,” Kurdish Globe, 5/23/08

Voices of Iraq, “Disputes hamper provincial council elections law passage – MPs,” 7/14/08
- “MP calls to adopt dividing Kirkuk into 4 constituences,” 6/5/08
- “Parliamentary session put off, UIC in closed session with KC,” 7/15/08

Zavis, Alexandra, “Iraqi election law still incomplete,” Los Angeles Times, 7/14/08

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