Parliament Stalls on Renewal of Election Commission's Mandate, Hindering Electoral Preparations
In a recent development at the Kurdistan Parliament, the renewal of the Independent High Election and Referendum Commission's mandate faced significant hurdles, obstructing preparations for the upcoming elections.
Hemin Hawrami, Deputy Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament, shed light on the challenges faced during the fifth term, as efforts to reach a consensus among political blocs faltered, leading to prolonged negotiations and delays in the electoral process.
Discussions surrounding the amendment of the Election Law and the renewal of the Election Commission's mandate began a year prior to the expiration of the fifth term, indicating a proactive approach by the Parliament. Despite the Election Commission's repeated requests and three separate letters to the Parliament's Presidency, seeking a decision on the Council of Commissioners, whose legal term had expired in December 2019, progress remained elusive.
To prevent a legal and institutional vacuum, the Parliament passed the Law on the Extension of the Fifth Term of Parliament, extending its mandate until December 31st, 2023. The extension aimed to ensure the necessary legal groundwork for the upcoming elections. However, parallel attempts to delay the elections persisted, challenging the Parliament's efforts.
In an attempt to overcome obstacles, an ordinary sitting was held, during which the renewal of the Council of Election Commissioners' mandate was added to the agenda and subsequently passed by a majority vote. Complementary measures were also taken to implement the decision, including its publication in the official gazette and the swearing-in of new commissioners, removing a major hindrance to holding the elections.
However, despite the Parliament's several attempts to prioritize the first reading of bills on Election Law amendments and the renewal of the Election Commission's mandate, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) parliamentary bloc requested additional time for internal discussions, eventually stalling progress. Missed opportunities further complicated the legislative steps necessary for the electoral process.
Efforts to hold an extraordinary sitting and move forward with electoral preparations were hindered by ongoing legal cases against the extension of the fifth term in the Iraqi Federal Court. The PUK bloc's lack of cooperation and failure to allow for the renewal of the Election Commission's mandate and the first reading of Election Law amendment bills impeded progress.
In response to unfulfilled promises and uncertain outcomes, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) took legal measures to overcome obstacles and facilitate the election process. Invoking Article 48 of the Parliament's Internal Rules of Procedure, the KDP submitted a request to renew the Election Commission's mandate and fill the vacant commissioner positions. However, the Speaker of Parliament refused to sign the amended agenda, further complicating the situation.
The failure to seize opportunities, honor commitments, and bridge differences has ultimately obstructed the parliamentary process required for holding the elections. As the Kurdistan Region faces increasing challenges and time constraints, urgent action is needed to ensure a smooth electoral process and preserve democratic principles.
By Kobin Ferhad