KRG and IHEC call for more international observers and assistance in forthcoming elections
The Independent High Commission for Elections (IHEC) in Iraq set out guidelines for international observers at the elections to the Iraqi parliament and the provincial councils of Erbil, Slemani and Duhok, scheduled to take place on April 30.
At a conference in Erbil on April 19, IHEC set out the guidelines for international observers in both elections as well as the code of conduct for candidates, IHEC employees and international observers.
Speaking at the event on behalf of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Minister Falah Mustafa said, ‘I am pleased to be here to convey the KRG’s commitment to democracy and to further consolidate the principles of democracy that we have started in the region. These elections are very important for the future of Iraq as a whole and we hope to have as many international observers as possible for these upcoming elections to ensure they are free and fair.’
In addition to Minister Mustafa, who heads the Department of Foreign Relations, the conference was attended by representatives of the Ministry of Interior, members from the diplomatic corps, NGOs and various media outlets.
The Chairman of IHEC, Serbest Mustafa, called on the international community to assist in ensuring the elections are transparent, free and fair. He said that IHEC was determined to hold the elections on time and that it had provided electronic voter cards, a first in Iraq, to prevent fraud.
According to IHEC, there will be 7,964 polling stations across Iraq in addition to stations designated for those people who will participate in special voting, such as members of the security forces. There will be overseas polling stations in19 other countries.
The IHEC chairman said that so far 1,249 international observers and 278 international journalists had registered to monitor both the provincial and parliamentary elections. This is in addition to 1,325 local journalists.
A total of 9,031 candidates are competing for 328 seats in the Iraqi parliament.
There are 276 political entities registered to participate in the parliamentary elections. Some of these have already formed coalitions so there are 107 electoral lists, 39 of which will be coalitions and 68 will be independent entities.
The elections to the provincial councils of Erbil, Slemani and Duhok will take place on the same day as the Iraqi parliamentary elections after being delayed by a year. Once the councils are elected, the council members will select a governor and a council leader from among their number for each province.
A total of 713 candidates from 18 political entities - five of them comprising just one individual - have been registered and approved by IHEC for the provincial elections.