ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Following issues with online registration, the Kurdistan Region Independent High Election and Referendum Commission (IHERC) extended the deadline for those currently living abroad or traveling on voting day to Sep. 22.
“We inform all Kurdistanis in the diaspora that the process of online registration will continue until Sep 22, 2017,” IHERC announced on Tuesday.
The people of the Kurdistan Region are heading toward a historic day, as on Sep. 25, they will decide whether to remain a part of Iraq or secede from the rest of the country as a newly-born independent state.
Previously, the IHERC provided a week-long online registration period, starting from Sep. 1 until Sep. 7 (www.khec17.net). However, the list of documents required to register raised concerns amongst members of the Diaspora, prompting the IHERC to extend the registration period as they vowed to fix the issue.
The problem revolved around one particular document, which many Diaspora Kurdistanis have been asked to produce when registering online but cannot. A ration card number, which would have been assigned to some under the Oil-for-Food Programme (OIP), is among the list of documents required, which also includes copies of Iraqi national ID cards, Citizenship cards, and passports.
Since many in the Diaspora, no longer have or never had ration cards, fears arose that they would not be able to register and vote.
The IHERC estimates that over five million people, in the Kurdistan Region, the disputed territories, and abroad, are eligible to participate in the referendum on independence.
The ration card, or food coupon, related to the OIP established by the United Nations in 1995 under the UN Security Council Resolution 986, was included for its precise indication of people's original hometowns or cities, determining where their votes would count.
The program was created in response to UN sanctions on the dictatorial system in Iraq, which allowed the country to sell oil in the world market in exchange for food, medicine, and other humanitarian needs for the citizens of Iraq.
The UN officially terminated the program on 21 November 2003, but it continues to be sponsored and provided for by the current federal government of Iraq.
Statehood for Kurdistan has been a long-awaited dream for all 40 million Kurds scattered across the globe. The Kurds are labeled as the largest stateless nation in the world.
Editing by G.H. Renaud