Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Kurdistan Elections Update

Preparations continue for Kurdistan’s parliamentary and presidential elections, which are scheduled for the 25th of July. The preparations include having people on the ground to monitor the electoral process. Al-Mada reports that, in addition to local monitors, the Arab League is sending a team of 12 to help monitor the elections. The contribution was solicited by the Iraqi government, the paper adds.

Meanwhile, the competing political parties intensified their campaign as elections day nears. Two main themes characterize these campaigns. On the one hand, the two ruling parties have focused on the disputes between the Kurdish region and the central government concerning the future of Kirkuk and other disputed territories. In effect, they are somewhat using fear politics in their campaigns by emphasizing the perceived Arab threat. Today for example, Khesro Koran, the KDP representative in Mosul accused Iraqi Army (IA) officers of fomenting tensions between Baghdad and Irbil. Koran renewed Kurdish criticism for IA deployments to some regions around Mosul.

On the other hand, opposition parties are focusing on the issue of corruption in the Kurdish region. Some opposition groups reported violations and offenses against their followers by the two ruling parties. Others claim to have uncovered rampant government corruption. One presidential candidate, Hallo Ibrahim Ahmed, said he has documents that prove the Kurdish government was involved in massive corruption in oil deals with foreign companies. There’s even a report today that Kurdish authorities, dominated by the PUK and KDP are firing political rivals who are running for office from their jobs; an accusation the two major parties deny.

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