Representative calls for free and transparent polls

U.N. to assist in organizing Kurdistan elections

NEWSROOM –  The United Nations representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, announced on Wednesday that a U.N. team will provide assistance to the Kurdistan Region in conducting its parliamentary elections.

Emphasizing the importance of these elections, Hennis-Plasschaert stressed the need for them to reflect the will of the Kurdish people and to be conducted in a free, transparent manner, free from foreign intervention.

Hennis-Plasschaert’s comments come in the wake of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the major governing party in the Kurdistan Region, declaring its intention not to participate in the elections. This decision follows a ruling by the Iraqi federal Supreme Court, which abolished the minority quota representation in Kurdistan and placed the federal electoral body in charge of overseeing Kurdish elections. The KDP views the ruling as an attempt to diminish its share of power within Kurdistan.

Efforts to mediate between the KDP and Baghdad authorities in recent days have failed to yield results. President Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Region had previously scheduled June 10 as the date for the parliamentary elections. Meanwhile, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the second-largest Kurdish party, has expressed support for holding elections on time. It says it accepts the Federal Supreme Court’s decisions regarding Kurdistan’s electoral process.

In addition to electoral matters, Hennis-Plasschaert disclosed that she had raised concerns about the salaries of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) civil servants with the U.N. Security Council and pledged to address the issue with the federal Iraqi government as well.

For years, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government in Baghdad have been embroiled in disputes over the salaries of KRG employees and the method of payment. A recent ruling by the Federal Supreme Court has emboldened the federal government, which now insists on assuming direct responsibility for disbursing salaries to KRG employees, pensioners, and social welfare recipients. However, the KRG vehemently opposes this stance, arguing that according to the Iraqi Constitution, it should retain authority over the distribution of salaries for its civil servants.

The recurrent postponement of salary distribution has sparked widespread protests in Kurdistan, with government employees calling for their salaries to be insulated from political disputes between Erbil and Baghdad. In Sulaymaniyah, a PUK stronghold, employees are advocating for direct payment from Baghdad, bypassing the authority of the KRG.