Kurds concerned about demographic change, voter registration in Kirkuk’s next provincial election
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi provincial council elections are scheduled for October of this year and the Kurds in Kirkuk are concerned about the demographic changes after 2017 and its impact on voter registration.
Due to the influx of “Arab families” that have resettled in Kirkuk following the security events of October 16, 2017, the Kurds fear losing their majority in the oil-rich province’s local council. The Iraqi military backed by the pro-Iran militia groups attacked Kirkuk and other disputed territories in 2017, ousting Kurdish Peshmerga forces that had protected the oil-rich province from ISIS for three years. The Iraqi forces previously deserted their positions in 2014 in face of the terror group’s attacks.
Some of the resettled families of Iraqi soldiers and members of the security forces have been moved to reside in Kirkuk since 2017 to change the demographics of the city, Ali Qallayi, an electoral official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Kirkuk and Saladin, told Kurdistan 24 on Sunday.
The Arabs prefer to hold the upcoming elections on a multi-constituency basis, a senior Arab Council official told 24. “This will ensure the rights of these communities. The registry of voters will also have to be updated,” he added.
In contrast, the Turkomans are calling for a single constituency in the upcoming elections in order to keep their votes together.
As a multi-ethnic province, Kirkuk has long been a subject of dispute between the Iraqi government and the Kurdish leadership.
According to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution, the status of the province is to be decided by its residents by conducting a census, followed by a referendum, and de-Arabization of the area. Under the former regime of Saddam Hussein, thousands of Arabs from other parts of Iraq were relocated to Kirkuk to change the Kurdish demography in the city.
Additional reporting by Kurdistan 24 Kirkuk correspondent Dilan Barzan