Opposition parties reject vote results in Iraq’s Kurdish region

Kurdish opposition parties say voter fraud complaints have not been resolved, as KDP comes first in regional election.

Massoud Barzani
Masoud Barzani's KDP came first in Iraq's Kurdish regional elections but opposition parties rejected the result [AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed]

Erbil, Iraq – Opposition parties in Iraq‘s Kurdish region have rejected the final results of the September 30 parliamentary elections.

After a delay of three weeks, the regional election commission announced late on Saturday that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) won the most votes in the elections, securing 45 out of the 111 seats in the local parliament.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) came second, winning 21 seats.

Hemin Anwar, a member of the Gorran Movement, which came third in the election with 12 seats, told Al Jazeera that his party does not accept the final results.

“Falsification was done during the elections,” he said. “There are more than 1,000 complaints. Some of them have not been finalised, which could change the result of the elections. So, we will pursue an appeal on the results of the election.”

After the elections, opposition parties accused the KDP and PUK of various electoral violations, including falsification of documents and stuffing ballot boxes.

The September 30 vote came a year after an independence referendum which the KRG pressed forward with, despite opposition from some Kurdish political parties, the central government in Baghdad, and the international community, leading to a severe political crisis in the semi-autonomous region.

Anwar said that the Gorran Movement, which lost half of its seats in the Kurdish parliament, will decide whether to participate in the next cabinet at an upcoming party meeting.

Gorran members held four ministerial positions in the previous Kurdish regional government (KRG).

Aram Said from the New Generation movement, which won eight seats, also said that his party rejects the results.

“We still haven’t decided whether we will participate [in the next parliament]. If the other opposition parties decide to participate, we will join them,” he told Al Jazeera, adding that he suspects that the KDP and the PUK made a political deal.

The Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Islamic Group also rejected the results.

The regional election commission is comprised of representatives of all major parties in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

In an internal vote, four of the nine commission members rejected the final election results before the announcement was made; the five who voted in favour are all members of the KDP and the PUK.

Responding to the opposition’s decision to reject the results, KDP press secretary Ahmed Mayi told Al Jazeera that “each party is free to say anything. We at the KDP think that the best thing is to be united.”

The KDP and the PUK will be the two main parties forming the next government, but the “door will be open” to other parties as well, Mayi added.

According to Abdel Hakim Khasraw, an Erbil-based analyst, the reaction of the opposition parties was expected but some of them are likely to change their position in the coming weeks.

“The opposition parties rejected the results of the May national elections, as well,” he said. “The Gorran Movement even boycotted the first session of the Iraqi parliament. Yet, when it came to the vote on the president, the Gorran MPs came back to Baghdad and voted.

“The new Kurdish regional government will be formed with or without the opposition. It is likely that some of these parties will participate in the government formation, perhaps the Gorran movement,” Khasraw said.


On October 2, the Iraqi parliament elected PUK member Barham Salih as Iraq’s new president.

Under a power-sharing agreement concluded after the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the presidency is reserved for an ethnic Kurd, the premiership for a Shia Arab and the chairmanship of parliament for a Sunni Arab.

Salih competed against Fuad Hussein, the candidate the KDP had put forward in defiance of a previous political arrangement with the PUK.

The two major Kurdish parties, which have ruled the Kurdish region under a power-sharing agreement since the late 1990s, have been at odds since last year’s failed independence referendum.

According to Khasraw, the announcement of the parliamentary election results is an indication that the rivals have reached a political agreement, although major disagreements remain.

Source: Al Jazeera