Kurdish factions addressing reporters in Kirkuk.
KIRKUK, Kurdistan Region-- Nearly all Kurdish parties in the disputed city of Kirkuk have agreed to go ahead with local elections in their province next year despite Iraqi government's earlier decision to postpone voting in Kirkuk and Mosul due to "extraordinary circumstances.”
Local elections are planned to take place in all Iraqi provinces next year along with the country's parliamentary elections. Officials have said conditions in both Islamic State (ISIS)-held Mosul and ethnically-mixed city of Kirkuk do not allow fair and accurate polls as both cities have been impacted by the war or massive influx of displaced Iraqis.
A Kurdish party official in Kirkuk told reporters Thursday that the Kurdish factions will likely hold a conference in the city to discuss ways of finding "an alternative" to the provincial polls if they are postponed.
"As things stand now, we do not see an alternative to the elections, but we have appealed to Baghdad and Erbil and the United Nations to discuss an alternative," said Bakhtiar Muhammad, a communication director for the Kurdistan Communist Party in Kirkuk.
Iraq's High Electoral Commission has ruled out the possibility of holding provincial elections in Kirkuk in 2017 as the country prepares for parliament and provincial polls, the commission announced in a statement in August.
The decision runs contrary to the broad agreement in Kirkuk's provincial council where representatives of the diverse communities have called for such elections to take place.
Since 2003 Kirkuk has been allowed to hold only one provincial election due to its "exceptional status" with tensions running high among different ethnic and religious groups in the city who seek to gain more votes for their own communities.
The commission says in its motivation that neither Mosul nor Kirkuk have the "required conditions" to hold a "proper election" which is why it decides to postpone such elections in both provinces.