Kurdish parties agree to unite in disputed areas for Iraq's 2020 provincial elections
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Kurdish political parties have announced an agreement between them to form a united coalition in upcoming provincial elections in areas disputed by the federal government and the Kurdistan Reginal Government (KRG).
Following a meeting on Saturday between nine political parties held at Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) headquarters in Erbil, Saadi Ahmed Pira, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's (PUK) spokesperson, said, "The coalition will be called the 'Kurdistan Alliance' and will run in all the disputed areas in Nineveh, Diyala, Salahuddin, and Kirkuk provinces."
A Kurdistan 24 correspondent present reported being told by party officials that "discussions will continue in a series of meetings between the political parties and with Iraqi authorities on the details and normalization of the disputed areas before the election, so every person will have the right to vote."
The remark referenced a controversial amendment to the provincial election law which prevents internally displaced persons (IDPs) from voting at camps where they reside or anywhere other than their original hometowns, many of which they say are still unsafe or highly impractical to return to. The amendment was approved after the Iraqi Parliament voted on and passed the bill in July but is opposed by Kurdish parties.
The vote is set to be held on April 1, 2020 to elect local governments for all provinces except the four within the Kurdistan Region, which holds its own local elections.
The last national provincial election took place in 2013. The next one was planned for 2016 but was canceled after the so-called Islamic State took control of over a third of the country the following year. Iraqi authorities finally decided to hold them on April 1, 2020.
Most of the disputed territories have been under the control of the federal government since in October 2017 when Iraqi forces and Shia-dominated militias attacked and took over Kirkuk and other contested areas, pushing Kurdish Peshmerga forces from them. This came in response to the Kurdistan Region's independence referendum held the month before.
The upcoming provincial election will be the first to be held since the military defeat of the Islamic State.
Editing by John J. Catherine