Kurdistan Region PM, Iraqi president stress crucial need for ‘free and fair’ election
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s upcoming elections must be "free and fair" in a way that will reflect the will of all Iraqis, urged Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani and Iraqi President Barham Salih in a meeting on Friday, according to a government statement.
Barzani received Salih in Erbil, where the two discussed the latest political developments in the country, Erbil-Baghdad relations, and the upcoming parliamentary elections scheduled to be held next month.
The two, both ethnic Kurds, reiterated that resolving outstanding issues between the federal government and the autonomous Kurdistan Region was of utmost importance, according to a statement from Barzani’s office.
On Oct. 10, Iraqis will head to the polls to vote for more than 3,000 candidates running for Baghdad's 329-seat parliament.
The elections "should be 'free and fair,' which should meet the rights and will of Iraq’s components and bring stability to the country," the statement read.
The elections will be monitored by a number of international observers, including teams sent from the United Nations and the European Union.
The country, according to its newly-amended electoral law, is divided into 80 voting districts, while previous elections have had less than 20.
Last week, the chair of the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) pledged that the elections would indeed be free and fair, despite some indications of attempts at fraud and expectations of low participation.
The commission's head, Judge Jalil Adnan Khalaf, said in an interview with the Associated Press that the body had already foiled a number of attempts to subvert the electoral process.
"What we hear, here and there, is that citizens are selling their voter cards," he said, referring to a potential scheme in which candidates could essentially buy votes, although it is not clear whether such efforts could be sufficient to affect any of the results.
The vote is being held a year before the originally-scheduled date, based on a promise made by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he took office in 2020 after his predecessor resigned along with his cabinet as a result of a national protest movement against institutional corruption, poor services, and a low standard of living that began in October 2019.