Iraq and Gulf Analysis

Archive for October 26th, 2009

More Alternatives for Kirkuk Emerge

Posted by Reidar Visser on Monday, 26 October 2009 10:44

The outcome of yesterday’s meeting in the political council for national security devoted to the stalemate on the elections law appears surprisingly positive, at least if statements by the Hiwar parliamentarian Muhammad Tamim to the Sumaria television station can be taken at face value.

According to Tamim, three alternatives for Kirkuk were discussed. The first involves a reversion to the electoral registers of 2004, which predate controversial increases in the numbers of voters that took place in 2005. The second alternative would reportedly divide Kirkuk into two electoral districts; crucially, however, this would not be on the basis of ethnic or sectarian identity. Rather, a distinction would be made apparently between voters who actually live in Kirkuk and those that are just registered there – and the results from the second constituency would count towards the so-called “national” (compensatory) seats that account for 10 to 20% of the seats in the Iraqi parliament and are awarded during the counting process to provide greater proportionality at the national level (Tamim in this case simply distinguishes between min sukan Kirkuk and min ghayr sukan Kirkuk). Finally, the third alternative would postpone elections in Kirkuk until the elections registers have been carefully scrutinised.

In sum, here are three compromise alternatives for Kirkuk that all eminently mediate between the original bargaining positions. None of the proposed options would in any way enshrine ethnic divisions in the city. The main worry now relates to the conflicting stories about what should happen next. According to Tamim, the Iraqi presidency, on the basis of yesterday’s deliberations, will have the job of presenting a consensus package to parliament for a vote. However, Ayman al-Asadi, another parliamentarian, talked about sub-committees and more meetings in the political council for national security, something that could easily drag on for a long time.

Yesterday’s terror attacks in the heart of Baghdad mean that there is increasing tension in Iraqi politics and a greater need than ever to agree on an electoral law. With the emergence of three sound alternatives for Kirkuk there really is no excuse for Iraqi politicians to postpone this process any further.

Posted in Iraqi constitutional issues, Kirkuk and Disputed Territories | 3 Comments »