Christian and Turkmen communities announce boycott of Iraqi Kurdistan's general elections

Political parties representing the Christian and Turkmen communities in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region announced on Monday their resolve to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections in the region if Iraq's federal court did not guarantee their minority quota seats in the Kurdish legislature.

Iraq's Supreme Federal Court on 23 February ruled that the Kurdistan region parliament's minority quota seats are "unconstitutional", stating that the region's parliament consists of 100 lawmakers, thus terminating the existence of eleven quota seats for the Turkmen, Christians, and Armenian minorities in the region that have been enacted in the legislature since 1992. 
After being delayed several times and under pressure from Iraq's top court, the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq will hold parliamentary elections on 10 June.
"We affirm that we will pursue all civil and democratic options, including protests, sit-ins, civil disobedience, and complete boycott of parliamentary elections if these forces and political parties outside our national components are allowed to hijack our political and parliamentary representation," representatives of the Turkmen and Christian components (Chaldeans, Assyrians, Syriacs) in the Kurdistan Region warned in a joint statement. They called upon Iraq's top court to reverse its ruling. 
The statement added that the decisions of Iraq's top court represent "a serious violation of human rights, minority rights, and religious and national components," describing the decisions as "a reprehensible step to undermine coexistence at its core and a clear violation of the constitution, laws, and prevailing political norms in the Kurdistan Region for more than three decades."
They also called on the United Nations, the international community, and the diplomatic missions to intervene to support and protect their rights. They called for an end to violations of their rights, cautioning that failure to protect their rights "would result in another wave of migration of the members of the components after losing hope in being treated fairly in their homeland."
The vote should elect both a parliament and then the parliament would elect a president for the Kurdish region, which gained self-rule in a popular uprising in 1991. 
Iraq's Federal Supreme Court ruled on 31 May 2023 against extending the term of the Kurdistan region's parliament as contrary to the country's constitution, declaring the Kurdish legislature terminated and ordering the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to supervise fresh general elections in the region. 
Originally slated for October 2022, the poll was rescheduled to November due to disagreements among political parties regarding the election law.
Kurdish officials and Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) previously told The New Arab that fresh elections were scheduled for 25 February but were delayed due to legal and political issues. 
Jumana Al-Ghalay, IHEC's spokesperson, recently told TNA, "IHEC has made all preparations and ready to conduct the Kurdistan region's parliamentary elections on the scheduled date, 10 June, according to international standards."
She also said that no obstacles will hinder conducting the elections in time, indicating that "IHEC would work to conduct the vote within their legal term fairly and transparently."
She stated that the number of eligible voters is three million,789000, and 360, from which nearly three million have registered their names at IHEC, including 60,000 youths eligible to vote for the first time.
The parliamentary election, held in September 2018, witnessed a low turnout of 57% and was marred by alleged large-scale voter fraud by the two main rival parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
The recent decision by Iraq's top court stemmed from lawsuits filed by politicians from PUK, challenging the constitutionality of the Kurdish region's election law. 
The KDP is often accused by the PUK and the opposition parties of manipulating the minority's quota to claim the majority in the parliament. In all past elections held in the region, all minority seats were allocated to Erbil province, while there are minority populations in other Kurdish provinces.
The minorities refuted those claims and stressed that 99% of Turkmen, Chaldeans, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians reside in the provinces of Erbil and Dohuk.  

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