Wednesday, March 11, 2009

President Masood Barzani rejects IHEC supervision

The Kurdish President Masood Barzani has rejected the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission's (IHEC) supervision of the Parliamentary Elections that are due to be held in the Kurdish region in mid-May this year. President Barzani has expressed reservations adding to the scepticism over the integrity of the Iraqi elections following a number of disturbing reports about the nature of IHEC toward the Kurds.

Yusef Ahmad Mustafa, member of the Iraqi Parliament, expressed frustration that 16,000 Kurdish returnees, just from Khanaqeen, have been refused the right to vote. "I tried to fix this problem so many times. This is the responsibility of the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC.) In name they are independent, but they don't like Kurds.....Outside the (IHEC) office, we saw a crowd of about 300 Kurdish returnees protesting and demanding the right to vote. We have a choice: to vote, or to set the polling place on fire. The conclusion at the end of the day was that even though the physical voting process at the sites seemed fair, the IHEC's implementation of its internal electoral registration rules, led to a flawed outcome disfavouring the Kurds.”

Later, electoral officials confirmed a report that about a million Arab internally displaced people (IDPs) in southern Diyala province and northern Baghdad province had the same difficulties voting as the Kurdish returnees in Khanaqin and other northern Kurdish disputed areas. After protesting on the streets, however, the Arab IDP's were allowed to vote. The difference in treatment of Arab and Kurd voters fuels the belief of many Kurds, that the IHEC intentionally used its internal voting regulations to reduce the number of Kurdish voters. Unfortunately, this will only increase the animosity and mistrust between Iraq's ethnic groups.

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