(AINA) -- The Assyrian Confederation of Europe (ACE), an umbrella organization for Assyrian federations throughout Europe, says it is deeply concerned with the parliamentary elections held yesterday in the northern Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government. The level of interference and corruption in the elections, especially for the Assyrians, was unprecedented.
Many, including leading Kurdish parties, expressed concern that holding parliamentary elections on September 30 would only deepen the social and political crisis in the region due to rigging and abuse of the electoral system.
For the smaller groups within the region, including the indigenous Assyrians and Yazidis, this election was even more disturbing. The quota system reserving parliamentary positions for these minorities has been completely and publicly hijacked by the larger Kurdish political parties, namely the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The spirit of the system is to allow these minorities and indigenous groups to elect their own representatives. However, the leading Kurdish groups have targeted these seats by diverting votes to them, especially from their armed forces.
This has reached a brazen level where the interference is discussed openly in the Kurdish media by these larger Kurdish groups, who boast about having "their own Christian groups." Despite multiple requests and public demonstrations to go back to the 1992 system of respecting the rights of the minorities, noting has been done by the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) on this matter. This forced one Assyrian group, the Al-Nahrain List, which has one MP, to boycott the election after parliament failed to amend election laws, which would have stopped the larger parties from targeting the quota seats.
ACE are calling on European governmental and non-governmental institutions to voice their concerns and demand that the Iraqi Kurdistan regional government respect the rights of minorities and amend the election law immediately, and are asking that the KRG be held accountable should it fail to do so.