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Kurdistan electoral commission begins prep for November vote

By Rudaw 24/5/2017
A Kurdish man after casting his vote in September 2013 elections. Photo: Rudaw
A Kurdish man after casting his vote in September 2013 elections. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – The Kurdistan Region’s Electoral Commission has called on Kurdistan’s political parties to meet in order to make preparations for the Region’s elections set to be held in November.
“We will ask representatives of the political parties for a meeting next week to discuss some questions,” said Dr. Jutiyar Adil, member of the commission.
It is expected revamping of the voter registration system and registering political entities will be discussed in the meeting.
Both parliamentary and presidential votes are scheduled to take place simultaneously on November 6. The elections come amid continued gridlock in the parliament and bitter political feuds among the major factions.
“We do all these works to make the Kurdistan electoral commission transparent and the election fair,” Adil added.
He also revealed that the commission had begun spending a sum the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had allocated for the anticipated election.
“Tough regulations have been made with regards to spending the allotted money,” he said.
Asked about rumours that the much-anticipated independence referendum will be held simultaneously with the general elections, he replied: “We have not received anything official on holding a referendum.”
Kurdish leaders have repeatedly said the inevitable referendum will be held in 2017, but a firm timeframe has not been set yet.
Adil believes that if the decision was made by the Kurdish leadership to hold the votes together, the commission is capable of the task.
On March 3, 2017 the KRG officially agreed to allot the sum of $22 million for the Kurdistan Region presidency and parliament elections.
However, Kurdish factions including the dominant Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) had previously announced that due to wide disagreements among the political factions over key issues, including the region’s constitution, they expect the elections to be postponed.
A key issue at the center of the disagreements is the position and constitutional form of the presidency in the Region. The KDP wants the president to be elected directly in a popular vote and for the role to have sweeping executive powers. 
The opposition Change Movement (Gorran) has relentlessly campaigned for a constitutional president that is elected by the parliament and given as few executive powers as possible.
The Kurdish draft constitution, passed in the regional parliament in 2009 with an overwhelming majority, is in line with the KDP position regarding a more powerful president. The draft needs to be put to referendum before it is established as the Kurdistan Region’s charter, something Gorran has opposed due to its concerns over the post of presidency, party officials have said.
Currently the KDP has 38 seats, Gorran 24, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) 18, the KIU 10 and the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) have 6 seats in the regional parliament, which has virtually been shut down since October 2015.

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