Iraqi election commission rules out voting from abroad in legislative election
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Independent High Electoral Commission announced on Tuesday that the Iraqi community abroad will not be permitted to participate in legislative elections planned for October.
The Board of Commissioners said in a statement that "the Iraqi parliament elections law No. 9 of 2020 stipulated that Iraqis abroad vote for their constituencies using the biometric card exclusively,” explaining that "the commission faced several technical, financial, legal and health obstacles.”
According to the commission, it is the biggest issue complicating the registration of Iraqi voters abroad. The biometric process in all its stages requires approximately 160 days in ideal conditions, it said, while only 40 days remain for Iraqis to update their biometric cards.
The statement pointed out that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs apologized for conducting the registration and voting process in Iraqi embassies and consulates due to the impossibility of establishing them at the current stage and for this election cycle.”
The Commission continued, "the conduct of the electoral process in places that are not subject to Iraqi sovereignty makes it subject to the laws of those countries,” and that Iraq has no jurisdiction “to rule over the violations and abuses that may occur during the conduct of the electoral process.”
The commission also highlighted the health risk factor of sending UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) staff to other countries in light of COVID-19. Typically the UNHCR helps to run elections for Iraqi refugees living in other countries.
Early elections were among the leading demands of anti-government protests in late 2019 that ultimately resulted in former prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi’s resignation. Mustafa al-Kadhimi replaced Abdul Mahdi in May 2020, after months of political jockeying in the legislature.
The Iraqi Council of Ministers voted unanimously during its session held on January 19th, to postpone its upcoming election this year from early June to the newly-scheduled date of Oct. 10.
Read More: Iraq postpones upcoming national election by 4 months
Editing by Joanne Stocker-Kelly