Erbil, Asharq Al-Awsat—As the deadline for nominations for the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG] presidential election fast approaches, no Kurdistan political party or figure has thrown their hat into the ring. The KRG presidential elections are scheduled to be held on September 21, while nominations opened on June 11 and are set to end at the end of the month.
The Independent High Electoral Commission announced, “Although a number of citizens requested nomination forms during this period, until now the commission has not received any official candidacy from any figure.”
The majority of the focus remains on KRG president Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party [KDP], who is widely expected to seek another term in office.
No opposition candidate has yet announced their intentions to participate in the upcoming presidential elections, with most analysts expecting nominations to be handed in on the final day.
KDP spokesman Abdul-Wahab Ali attributed this lack of movement to fears over challenging a sitting president and ruling party.
Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, Ali said: “Everybody is afraid of challenging our candidate, particularly if this is President Barzani. Nomination has been open for more than two weeks, and so why have we not seen a single nomination, even from a normal citizen?”
He added, “It seems that everybody is certain about the power and influence of our party, and so nobody dares to compete, particularly as there are strong indications signalling that our expected candidate will win and sweep the vote.”
Three opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan failed to reach an agreement on designating a presidential candidate yesterday. It was assumed that the Movement for Change, the Kurdistan Islamic Union, and the Islamic Group in Kurdistan would submit their nominations on Tuesday, but the three failed to come to an agreement.
Muhammad Hakim, a member of the Islamic Group in Kurdistan’s political bureau, revealed: “We have yet to reach an agreement on nominating a candidate.”
Talking about the possibility of extending the nomination deadline, Hakim revealed: “We talked with the Independent High Electoral Commission about this, and the decision lies with them.”
Hakim also commented on the statements made by KDP spokesman Abdul-Wahab Ali, stressing that “the opposition parties are consistent with one another, and there is no dispute over the presidential candidate.”
In related news, KRG minister of Peshmerga Affairs Jafar Mustafa Ali has refused to appear in front of an Iraqi court. He was called to respond to a lawsuit filed against him and Prime Minister Barzani. It claims that his ministry retained large quantities of heavy weaponry taken by Peshmerga troops to the Kurdistan region following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Jafar Mustafa told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We have received a formal letter from the Court of Karkh in Baghdad regarding the establishment of the Ministry of Defense. In it, a federal lawsuit against myself and Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani accuses us of seizing of a number of tanks and DShK anti-aircraft machine guns. . . . There is no legal basis for this lawsuit; it has been constructed as per the political objectives that it serves.”