Election boycott threatened

People with disabilities in Sulaymaniyah renew protests for benefits boost

SULAYMANIYAH — A group of people with disabilities gathered in front of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate building Tuesday, declaring their intention to boycott the upcoming elections and political parties in response to unmet demands.

This protest follows another recent rally near the Sulaymaniyah Sara Square, where participants called for an increase in their monthly government benefits.

Currently, people with disabilities in Sulaymaniyah and other Kurdistan Region governorates, who are unable to work, receive 150,000 Iraqi dinars ($115) each month. Those with other income streams receive 100,000 IQD ($76).

A participant said, “Our demand is simple: we want our salaries raised from 150,000 to 250,000 IQD ($191), like those in Baghdad. We cannot live on 150,000 IQD per month.”

Demonstrators are demanding an increase to 250,000 dinars ($191), which is the standard benefit across Iraqi governorates under federal administration.

Saman Hussein, head of the Kurdistan Union of People with Disabilities, told 964media that today’s gathering in front of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate building was to send a message of boycotting elections and political parties. He emphasized that no party has addressed their demands.

“We are voicing our disenchantment with all political factions and have no party representing us. We will extensively boycott the elections if our demands are not met,” Hussein stated.

He added that they will continue to await a response from these parties.

The date for the sixth parliamentary election in Kurdistan, which was supposed to take place in 2022, remains undetermined.

Hussein described the benefits increase as a “moral imperative,” benefiting their lives and livelihoods.

The Kurdistan Regional Government’s Minister of Social Affairs, Kwestan Mohammad Abdulla Maarouf, chaired a meeting on April 23 focused on the status of individuals with disabilities.

Hawraz Abdulqader, director of the Social Protection Network within the ministry, told 964media then that officials had not received any official request concerning the alignment of benefits with the rest of Iraq.

Abdulqader said the ministry would “review their concerns and issues.”

There are an estimated 75,000 registered individuals with disabilities in the Kurdistan Region, according to Abdulqader.