The Iraqi election body has officially announced the postponement of the parliamentary elections for the Kurdistan Region, originally scheduled for 24 February.
Emad Jamil, spokesman for the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), revealed on Wednesday that the commission is unable to proceed with the Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections until the Federal Supreme Court delivers its verdict on quota seats, now set for 21 January.
Formal notification of the election delay has been sent to the IHEC seeking mutual agreement on establishing an alternative date for the crucial elections. The announcement contradicts assurances from Kurdistan Region officials that there were no impediments to the timely elections.
The unexpected delay has raised concerns among political observers, who argue that prolonging the electoral process could escalate political conflict and uncertainty in the region.
The Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections, held every four years, were initially slated for 2022 but faced postponement due to disagreements between the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) on critical issues like electoral laws, taxes, and the distribution of oil revenue.
In October 2022, the KDP and PUK agreed to extend the parliament’s term to facilitate ongoing negotiations. However, an Iraqi federal court ruled in May 2023 that the extension was illegal, resulting in the dissolution of the Kurdistan Parliament. All decisions made during the extended period were invalidated, leading to the transfer of responsibility for organising and monitoring elections to the IHEC, bypassing the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Since the dissolution of the parliament in May, the Kurdistan Region has experienced a lack of a functioning legislative body, intensifying the urgency to schedule new parliamentary elections. The recent postponement by the IHEC has heightened concerns about the potential consequences of a prolonged political vacuum.