A man in Erbil hangs a banner that advocates for a 'Yes' vote in the Kurdistan Region's upcoming independence referendum. Photo: Safin Hamed | AFP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Official campaigning regarding the referendum for the Kurdistan Region has begun on Tuesday and will last for 18 days.
As of today, entities, political parties, and people may start campaigning for the referendum that is set to take place on September 25.
Official campaigns for or against the referendum must register with the commission.
According to The Kurdistan Region’s Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission (IHREC), more than 5 million people are eligible to vote.
Voters live in the Kurdistan Region, in disputed areas claimed by Erbil and Baghdad, and in diaspora.
Already people have expressed support for and against the September 25 referendum.
Some yes-vote supporters have decorated their cars and banners with 25/9 slogans and checkmarks in favor of independence for the Kurdistan Region, while no-vote supporters announced a ‘No for Now’ movement in early August in Sulaimani and also have banners opposing the referendum's timing.
There have been large rallies in support of holding the referendum in Europe, including an August 26 rally in Cologne, Germany, that attracted an estimated 20,000 attendees including Kurds in diaspora and others.
Voters in Kurdistan and abroad will be asked the same ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ question: “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the administration of the Region to become an independent state?”
The diaspora will vote on September 23 from 12:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Erbil time, two days before people in Kurdistan. Registration for e-voters began on Friday and continues through Thursday (September 7). During this week, eligible voters abroad can visit www.khec17.net
in English or Kurdish to fill in an online registration form.
E-voters abroad have been concerned that the requirement for the food form, also called a ration card, is a hindrance to registering for the vote.
Iraq has not held a census for decades so relies on the ration card to determine place of origin of citizens. The cards were introduced during the United Nations’ Oil-for-Food Programme in the mid-1990s.
Traditional voting will take place in the Kurdistan Region and in the disputed or Kurdistani areas claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad on September 25.
In the early hours of Tuesday, a large number of 'Yes' supporters of the independence referendum poured into the streets of Erbil for the historic vote.