Iraq: New Election law disadvantages minorities – Quota system called for

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SOCIETY FOR THREATENED PEOPLES
PRESS RELEASE Göttingen,

Iraq: New Election law disadvantages minorities Quota system for Assyrian Chaldean Christians, Mandaeans, Armenians, Yezidi, Shabak and Feili-Kurds called for

Following the passing of a new law for the provincial elections in Iraq the Society for Threatened Peoples (GfbV) called on Monday for a quota system. “The new election system disadvantages above all the religious communities of the Assyrian Chaldean Arameans, Yezidi, Shabak, Feili-Kurds, Mandaeans and Armenians, criticised the President of the GfbV International, Tilman Zülch, in a letter to the Iraqi President, Jalal Talabani, and the President of the autonomous federal state of Kurdistan, Masud Barzani. “To make sure that the minorities are represented fairly, quotas must be established for them where their numbers are high. It is only in this way that they can be present in all important bodies independently of the election results.”

It was only after very lively discussion that the new electoral law was passed in the Iraqi Parliament on 24th September 2008. The plan is now for elections to be carried out in 14 of the 18 Iraqi provinces by the end of January 2009. The exceptions are the three provinces of Iraqi Kurdistan (Arbil, Dohuk and Sulaymaniye) and the province of Kirkuk, whose administrative affiliation is debated between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdish autonomous region in the north.
The provincial elections planned are seen as an important step on the road to stabilising Iraq and are to take place under the supervision of the United Nations.

Although all the larger parties have voted for the law there is still criticism to be heard., coming mainly from the Kurdish side. Dr. Kamal Kukuki, Vice-President of the Regional Parliament of Kurdistan and member of the advisory board of the GfbV Section there, holds the law to be undemocratic because it does not allow the citizens of Kirkuk for example to decide at the same time as in the other provinces who will represent them on the Provincial Council. “The new law has come about under massive pressure from the USA and the United Nations”, said a GfbV employee in Arbil.

The GfbV is calling for a quota solution for Iraqi Kurdistan as well to be introduced in the constitution – yet to be passed – of the autonomous federal state in the north of the country. In addition to this self-government must be established for those communities which differ from other Kurdish provinces in terms of ethnic background or religious affiliation.