Gorran supporters rally ahead of the Kurdistan's Region's parliamentary elections in 2009. File photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The KRG issued instructions concerning Iraq’s parliamentary elections on May 12. The KRG emphasizes the freedom for campaigning and encourages tolerance in the campaigns.
“With the parliamentary elections of federal Iraq nearing, and with the onset of elections campaigning, we ask all of politics parties, citizens, candidates and supporters [of parties] to adhere to these below points during elections campaigning,” reads a statement published by the KRG on Tuesday.
The diverse Kurdistan Region is home to many ethno-religious groups with historical disagreements which often come to light during elections.
“The Kurdistan Regional Government emphasizes the protection of the rights of all candidates, lists and political parties of Kurdistan and Iraq that are officially registered in the election commission for undertaking their activities and campaigning freely and within the framework of laws and instructions,” the statement adds.
The government declares anyone who is attacked can go to relevant parties to file a complaint.
“The elections campaigning should be done in the spirit of tolerance and respect in regards to the opinion of the opposite sides and the principle of free expression be taken into consideration,” the statement further adds.
The government asks that all sides should abstain from slandering and violence.
“All governmental departments and security apparatus should coordinate fully with the election commission and relevant parties to work for the elections campaigning and the elections to be held in conjunction with human right principles and preserving the right of voters, citizens and candidates,” the third instruction reads.
UN welcomes Iraqi Electoral Charter of Honour
In Baghdad, on Wednesday, the UN’s representative in Iraq welcomed Iraqi parties signing the Electoral Charter of Honour.
The charter “is essential to conducting the elections in a free, fair, impartial, transparent and credible manner,” UNAMI’s Jan Kubis said, calling on all parties and the media to abide by the guidelines outlined in the charter.
The document puts forward respect for democratic rights and free competition as essential to the electoral process while “condemning any sectarian or ethnic discourse that targets any of the Iraqi people.”
Commanding all parties to avoid the use of violence, the charter dictates that the federal will government will facilitate “unrestricted access of voters to polling stations and to provide security protection for them.”
Kubis said the charter could “form the basis of a future law that could be enacted by the next elected Parliament.”
Iraq’s parliamentary election date, after much debate and contentions, especially from the Sunni side, was finally determined to be held on May 12.
A US-led anti-ISIS coalition commander warned on March 20 of ISIS remnants, sectarian divisions, and security challenges remaining in places like Anbar.
Sunnis are worried that large numbers of IDPs, mainly from Sunni areas, will not be able to vote due to their cities being nearly totally destroyed from the war with ISIS. Large international NGOs issued a joint statement warning of “forced and blocked returns of IDPs” in Anbar ahead of elections.
Cases of IDPs being forced to go back to their cities where basic services lack, and voter cards have been reportedly sold to political parties by voters suffering financially, paving the road for voter fraud, something the Western countries have said they want the elections to be devoid of.
The opposition parties in the KRG have also demanded that KRG’s voter list be cleared of duplicates, deceased individuals and so on to prevent fraud during elections. KRG’s electoral body is currently doing so, and thousands of duplicate or named of the deceased have been removed.