ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) will boycott Iraq’s upcoming elections in the disputed areas, the party announced saying they will not give legitimacy to Iraqi occupation of the area.
"The process of elections is to be held in a peaceful and free atmosphere so that people can choose freely, but Kirkuk and all other Kurdistani areas outside the authority of KRG are under military occupation and are unstable," read a statement published by KDP’s Kirkuk and Garmiyan politburo on Monday.
They party said they will not compromise on the Kurdistani identity of these disputed areas and called on the Kurdish population there to take a stance by boycotting the elections as well.
"Elections cannot be held in these places and KDP will not give legitimacy to an occupation," read the statement.
Mohammed Khurshid, the head of KDP office in Kirkuk who is now displaced, told Rudaw that the decisions include all of Kirkuk province including Pirde (Altun Kupri).
The boycott will also include all the disputed areas of Saladin and Diyala provinces such as: Badra, Jassan, Mandali, Khanaqin, Jalawla, Qara Tapa, Tuz Khurmatu.
Concerning Shingal, which also came under the control of the Iraqi armed forces, Khurshid explained the KDP considered “occupied” territories, therefore, necessary decisions will be made for it as well.
Kirkuk is part of the disputed territories claimed by both Baghdad and Erbil. Peshmarga forces secured the city in 2014 after the collapse of the Iraqi army in the face of ISIS advances.
Last October, the Iraqi army, backed by Shiite militias, took control over the city and the majority of the disputed areas as Baghdad sought to exert federal control after Kurdistan’s independence vote in September.
KDP members fled the city and their representatives in Kirkuk Provincial Council have refused to return to attend council sessions in Kirkuk.
They also did not attend a meeting of Kurdish parties in Kirkuk last week, saying they will not meet in Kirkuk because it’s "sold out and occupied."
Three Kurdish opposition parties, Gorran, Islamic Group (Komal), and Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), formed the Nishtiman coalition to run jointly in Kirkuk and other disputed territories. The Kurdistan Islamic Movement, a small party without a seat in Baghdad, has said it will boycott Iraqi elections entirely because Kurds are not unified and will, therefore, not be effective in the Iraqi parliament. The Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) will run independently.
KDP had advocated for a joint list of Kurdish parties in the Iraqi elections within the disputed territories, but the quest remained elusive.
Iraqi elections are set to be held on May 12, 2018 though Sunni blocs have argued they should be postponed until all IDPs have returned to their homes.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has insisted that the vote will not be delayed.
Last updated at 9:50 a.m. on January 16