Turkmen Front will participate

10 Turkmen parties announce boycott of Kurdistan elections

ERBIL – 10 Turkmen parties have announced a boycott of the upcoming Kurdistan Parliament elections at a press conference held at the Turkmen House.

This declaration, motivated by the Federal Court’s decision to abolish the reserved minority seat, echoes a similar sentiment expressed by Christian groups, including the Chaldean, Syriac, Assyrian, and Armenian parties, during a press conference the previous day.

These parties have stated they will not participate in the elections unless the reserved seat system is reinstated. They accused “adversaries of democracy and coexistence” of attempting to dismantle the political and social fabric of Kurdistan society, citing the Federal Court’s decision as “unjust and exclusionary preventing them from practicing their democratic rights”. This move has been described as a “deep wound” to the diverse communities within the region.

The statement calls on representatives from the United Nations, international consuls and diplomatic missions, the President of Iraq, the Iraqi Council of Representatives, and the Prime Minister to play their roles, “break their silence”, and prevent this injustice from being imposed. While decisions by the federal court cannot be annulled once issued.

Not all Turkmen factions support the boycott. Aydin Maruf of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, and Minister of Minorities in the Kurdistan Regional Government, has expressed their intention to participate in the elections without the reserved seat system. While criticizing the Federal Court’s decision as “illegal, anti-human rights and against coexistence’’, he mentioned that the Iraqi Turkmen Front would participate in the upcoming Kurdistan elections even without the reserved seat system and encouraged other Turkmen factions to unify under one list for the elections.

This issue came to the forefront following a Feb. 21 ruling by the Iraqi Federal Court eliminating the 11 reserved minority seats, thus reducing the Kurdistan Parliament to 100 seats.

The dispute over reserved seats has sparked significant debate among Kurdish political parties, particularly between the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Kurdistan Patriotic Union. The PUK argues that the system unfairly favors the KDP. PUK leader Bafel Talabani has vocally criticized this perceived imbalance, likening the challenge of competing under such conditions to starting the contest “11-0 down.”

Accusations have been made against the KDP for allegedly manipulating quota seat elections, which, though contested on separate lists, could be voted on by anyone, including those not affiliated with the minority in question. Critics argue that tactical voting by party loyalists and security personnel affiliated with the KDP skews the results. The KDP has consistently denied these claims.

Muna Kahveci, a Turkmen politician with ties to the KDP and the secretary of parliament in the previous session, struck a different tone in a TV interview last year. Kahveci stated that securing bloc votes from security forces was not a flaw in the system, asserting, “The Peshmerga is a national force; it is natural that it voted for the Turkmen list.”

Kahveci, present at today’s press conference, will be joining the boycott of June’s election.

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