Thursday, August 13, 2009

All Kirkuk citizens now have voting rights

“…The government has done what it has to do.”—Nuri al-Maliki
Nuri al-Maliki’s mission in Kirkuk is not over yet, says Kurdish member of Iraqi Parliament
The Iraqi government still has a lot of work to do to complete the implementation of Iraqi Constitution Article 140, said a Kurdish member of the Iraqi Parliament in reply to a statement of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.

“It is true that implementing the article has already begun, but it is not completed yet,” Parliament member Khalid Shwani told the “Globe” on Thursday. He added that still more compensation is to be paid by the government to displaced families to Kirkuk and other disputed areas, and also brought-in families must be taken from these areas and brought back to their origins in the south.
“The government has to work more seriously to complete the other steps of implementing Article 140,” added Shwani.
Al-Maliki announced on Monday that his government had completed its task concerning the issues of Kirkuk and Article 140 as it had formed a committee and used up the compensations over the past three years.
“Thus, the government has done what it has to do; what is remained is the role of the Presidential Board and the Council of Representative [Parliament],” stated al-Maliki, adding that a concord understanding among all the Kirkuk ethnical components would push forward a solution on the city.
Shwani also informed the “Globe” that the Presidential Board—republic president and his two vices—has not been able to agree on repairing administrative borders of the disputes areas because one of the vice presidents is objecting.
Borders of towns and sub-districts within provinces included in the disputed areas changed in the past decades have to be redrawn as they were before 1968 according to the Constitution, explained Shwani.
Meanwhile, the Kirkuk issues remains as usual a hot focus of talk among Iraqi politicians as Parliament is going to set laws for the January parliamentary elections and the provincial election of Kirkuk when it resumes its last round of sessions on September 15. Parliament has to amend the laws by October 15 or the former election laws of 2005 will be adopted.
Shwani announced that the Kurdistan Coalition bloc in Parliament has prepared a bill to be suggested for the Kirkuk provincial electoral law. He didn’t give details on what this bill contains, but it will be announced when Parliament finishes its summer holiday.
Arab and Turkmen blocs in Kirkuk and in Parliament had suggested dividing Kirkuk into four electoral circles for the elections, each a circle for Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, and Christian voters.
“We demand that the election in Kirkuk to be the same as in the other Iraqi provinces. Making Kirkuk different is against the law and the Constitution,” said Ahmed al-Askari, a Kurdish member of the current Kirkuk provincial council. He noted that suggestions for dividing Kirkuk into several electoral circles have been rejected by the Iraqi constitutional court.
The Kurdish bloc in Kirkuk has rejected the idea of preventing voting in the elections from displaced people returned to Kirkuk after 2007.
Al-Askari explained that the right of voting depends on monthly food ration coupons. Any family that has the Kirkuk coupon will be able to vote in Kirkuk, he said.
“Some parties have considerations that if the election was held in Kirkuk, it won’t be definite because of large numbers of returnees to Kirkuk. Thus, this requires an agreement that satisfies all parties,” Saleem al-Juburi, a Parliament member, said in a statement published on the Sunni Arab Accord Front List website on Tuesday. He noted that the Iraqi High Electoral Commission (IHEC), in a meeting with Parliament’s Legal Committee, discussed ideas of adopting electoral registries the IHEC made in 2007 and not to add further names on the lists in Kirkuk. This will exclude 100,000 people, including those returned to Kirkuk after 2007, from the right to vote.

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