Hadiya Yousif, co-chair of the founding council for the the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria casts her vote for local elections on September 22, 2017. Photo: ANHA
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Voting has begun in the mainly Kurdish regions of Syria, also known as Rojava, Friday morning to elect their communal representatives, the first such process since their announcement of the federal democratic region, despite objections from the Syrian regime, Russia, and the United States.
Rojava will hold the local and provincial elections in November, followed by parliamentary elections in January.
According to the local media, thousands of people in different areas of the region headed to the polls when the voting stations early in the morning.
The founding council of the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria decided to hold the elections, and passed a set of regulations that both designed the administrative boundaries, and also instructions for the structure of the elected bodies.
The main opposition to the Rojava administration, the Kurdistan National Council (ENKS), a group of Kurdish parties who are mainly present in the Kurdistan Region and have little influence in Rojava, have called on the people to boycott the process calling it illegitimate.
Fawzi Yousif, an executive co-chair of the Rojava Council, slammed the ENKS’s statement, adding that they are too weak to influence the will of the people.
Reuters reported that there will be no elections in the newly-liberated areas that came under the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) such as Manbij and Raqqa.
Hadiya Yousif, the co-chair of the founding council, cast her vote in the Kurdish city of Qamishli. She congratulated the people of Rojava on what she described as the day of celebration.
She told Reuters on Thursday that opposition from the Syrian regime may lead to the partition of the country, also insisting that they do not aim for independence.
“The regime’s insistence on renewing this authoritarian, centralized regime will lead to a deepening of the Syrian crisis,” said Yousef.
“If [the government] insists on this position, the regime will steer Syria toward partition,” she added by phone.
The voting comes only three days before the Kurdish people in the Iraqi Kurdistan head to the polls to vote on whether they want to stay or leave Iraq, despite regional and international pressure.
The Syrian regime and the People's Protection Units (YPG), the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, have largely avoided direct clashes since the civil war that engulfed the country since 2011.
Abdulqader Azuz, an advisor to the Syria’s Council of Ministries, told Rudaw in July the Syrian government considers the elections "illegitimate" and the region "illegal."
The Rojava founding council, which called for the vote in August, also passed four declarations with respect to its management system Rojava in August.
According to the first point, 60 percent of representatives in the national parliament will be elected directly by voters through ballot boxes.
The other 40 percent of the parliament’s seats will be reserved for minorities via a quota system.
There must also be equal participation of men and women, the declaration reads.
Each member of the parliament and the councils is entitled to run for elections for two terms.
According to bills passed by the council, Rojava consists of three regions: Afrin in the west, Euphrates in the centre, and Jazira in the east.
Afrin region includes Afrin canton and Shahba canton including Manbij town. The Euphrates region consists of Kobane canton and Girespi. The last region, Jazira, includes Qamishli and Hasakah.