Election authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region on Tuesday indefinitely postponed provincial polls scheduled for September because of laws that restrict minority voting rights.
The delay further extends the period between Iraq’s nationwide provincial council elections in January 2009, and similar polls being conducted in the three-province Kurdish region.
Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said Kurdish regional laws only allowed Christian voters to vote for candidates from their religious community, thereby restricting their human rights and falling short of international election standards.
“They (the Kurdish government) postponed the elections indefinitely and, after reaching an agreement over the law of provincial councils, they will announce a new date,” IHEC chief Faraj al-Haidari said at a news conference in the regional capital Arbil.
“There was a section of the law of provincial councils that stated Christians should only vote for Christian candidates, and this is against international standards and human rights because every human being has the right to vote in favour of any candidate.”
Elections in the three provinces that comprise Iraqi Kurdistan were due to have been held on September 27, after last taking place in 2005.
In 2009, elections were held in 14 of Iraq’s 18 provinces, with only the three Kurdish provinces and the disputed northern province of Kirkuk, claimed by both Kurdish authorities and the central government, not taking part.