Middle East

Iraq’s Kurdistan region delays elections

Elections for Iraq’s Kurdistan region’s presidency and parliament set for Nov. 1 will be delayed because political parties failed to present candidates, the head of the electoral commission Hendrean Mohammed told Reuters on Monday.

Parties have been unable to focus on the elections because of turmoil that followed a referendum on Sept. 25 on Kurdish independence, a Kurdish MP said on condition of anonymity. Authorities in Baghdad as well as neighbors Iran and Turkey opposed the referendum that saw a clear independence majority.

Last week, Iraqi forces captured the oil city of Kirkuk and other territory claimed by the Kurds in retaliation for the referendum, dealing a severe blow to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani.

The Kurdish electoral commission’s Mohammed, speaking by phone from the KRG capital Erbil, in northern Iraq, said it is up to the Kurdistan region’s parliament to fix a new date for the elections. The deadline to present candidates expired last week and was extended until Monday.

The current KRG presidency, held by Barzani since 2005, and parliament, elected in 2013, are expected to continue until new votes are held, he said.

The loss of Kirkuk prompted calls from Gorran, the main opposition party to Barzani, for his resignation.

Gorran, or the Change Movement, supports the right of Iraq’s Kurds for self-determination but it opposed holding the referendum on Sept. 25, saying the timing was ill-chosen.

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