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Assyrian Iraqi Politician Slams 'Oppressive' Court Ruling on Minority Seats
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Romeo Hakkari, secretary general of the Assyrian Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party.
Iraq's Federal Court ruling to abolish the minority quota seats from the Kurdistan Region parliament is "oppressive," an Assyrian leader told Rudaw on Friday, adding that there was a political motivation behind the decision.

"There was a political hand behind the Federal Court ruling. This is a retreat from democracy," said Romeo Hakkari, secretary general of the Assyrian Bet-Nahrain Democratic Party.

The Baghdad-based court on Wednesday ruled that the 11 quota seats in the Kurdistan Region's parliament reserved for ethnic and religious minorities were unconstitutional, effectively rejecting the legitimacy of the seats.

Hakkari said conflict between the Kurdistani parties was the driving force behind the ruling that he described as "oppressive, against the constitution, and a violation of minority rights."

The court ruling was on cases brought by Kurdish politicians about the electoral law and the distribution of minority seats.

On Friday, six Christian parties in the Kurdistan Region convened to discuss a united stance in response to the court ruling. Hakkari said they have not made a decision yet regarding their participation in the Kurdistan Region's upcoming parliamentary elections.

"We did not make a decision in the meeting and we will wait to monitor the situation and then decide," he said.

On Friday, Yonadam Kanna, head of the Christian al-Rafidain alliance, told Rudaw that without the minority quota seats, his party will not participate in the election.

Before the Federal Court's ruling, the Kurdistan Region's election law stipulated that 11 of the legislature's 111 seats are dedicated to minorities under a quota system. Turkmen had five seats, Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs had five, and Armenians had one. Now, minority parties can enter the race for a general seat in the legislature as their own party or under the umbrella of other parties and alliances.

There are already tensions between Iraq's Christians and the federal government after the president last year revoked a decree that formally recognized Cardinal Louis Raphael Sako, patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church. In protest, Sako left Baghdad and relocated to Erbil last summer.

‎The date for the Kurdistan Region's delayed parliamentary elections is yet to be determined. On Tuesday, delegations from Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) met with the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Kurdistan Region Presidency. In the meeting, a June date was suggested, Rudaw learned.

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