Accessibility links

Breaking News

Kurds Threaten Boycott of Iraqi National Elections

<!-- IMAGE -->

The president of Iraq's Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, has cast further doubt on planned national elections by threatening a boycott of the vote unless Kurdistan is allocated more seats in parliament.

In a statement Tuesday, Mr. Barzani said unless the mechanism for allocating parliamentary seats is changed, the people of the autonomous Kurdish region will not be able to participate in the vote.

His chief of staff, Fuad Hussein, said Kurdistan's president believes the current system is designed to reduce the number of Kurdish seats.

Iraqi lawmakers approved a long-delayed election law last-week, with the aim of holding elections in January.

Iraqis will be casting ballots to fill 323 parliamentary seats. That number is up from 275 in the current parliament, based on a formula that calls for one representative for every 100,000 Iraqis.

A key dispute that held up the election law was over how to conduct the vote in northern Iraq's ethnically divided, oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

The Kurds want to incorporate Kirkuk into their autonomous region, but Arabs and Turkmen want the region to remain under the control of the central government.

Lawmakers decided that votes in Kirkuk will be subject to a special review to determine if there has been an unusual increase in registered voters. The region's Arab and Turkmen residents claim Kurds have moved into the region to tip the balance in their favor.

The new law, which must be approved by Iraq's presidency council, also is facing a challenge from the country's Sunni Arab vice president.

Tariq al-Hashimi has said he will veto the new law unless there is more representation for Iraqis living abroad - many of whom are Sunni Arab.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.