Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian representatives in Iraq call on Erbil to allocate special ballot boxes for ethnic components in general elections

ERBIL — On 8th June, a round table dialogue was held in Erbil, Iraq, on quota seats and elections of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI).

The event was attended by political parties’ officials, ministers, and representatives of national and religious groups and the United Nations, in order to reach solutions for disputes between political parties on quota seats and postponing the Parliament elections.

At the beginning of the dialogue, the KRI Minister of Region for Components’ Affairs Aydın Maruf confirmed that they have always demanded the political parties in the KRI not to include the parliamentary quota into their political disputes.

“We also demanded that the elections be held on time and kept away from political problems,” Maruf stated, stressing the presence of ethnic components in the KRI political process.

Christian member of the Erbil Parliament Mona Youhanna declared that there is still no good understanding on the quotas and political participation in the KRI.

“The quotas needs to be reformulated,” said Youhanna, indicating that the main problem lies in the competition of some parties for quota seats, which leads to the absence of “actual representatives” of the ethnic components in Parliament.

Regarding the solution, Youhanna stated that one of the solutions could be allocating special ballot boxes for the ethnic components, as in the 1992 elections when a ballot box was allocated for Christians.

Supporting what Mona Youhanna argued, the KRI Minister of Transport and Communications Ano Jawhar stated that allocating special ballot boxes for the ethnic components might be a solution that could save them from political complications. He also supported the idea that Christians vote only for Christians, so that the winners would be actual representatives of Christians.

Deputy Governor of Nohadra (Dohuk) Shimon Shlimon demanded that the quota not be included in powerful political parties’ disputes. He referred to the experiences of Iran, Jordan and Ukraine, where members of the ethnic components can reach parliament with a small number of votes.

The Director General of Syriac Culture and Arts Kaldo Ramzi stressed that the ethnic components themselves should choose their representatives, and that this issue should be resolved through dialogue.

Ramzi did not minded that other parties have candidates from the ethnic components, provided that there would be “real” competition.