Displaced Kurds in Iraq are concerned that they will be unable to participate in the 12th May elections due to a lack of polling stations.
Concerns have been raised by the citizens in Sulaimaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan, over the ability for the displaced people to vote in the upcoming election.
In Sulaimaniyah, minor protests were held by some residents who demanded that the city’s election commission opens more polling stations for all displaced people from the region. Many of these people are currently dispersed across many of Iraq’s provinces and in the outskirts of the capital city, Baghdad. The protesters emphasised the difficulty for many displaced people to return to their hometowns to vote as a result of ongoing safety concerns as security operations continue in some provinces.
“These centres should be established with no preconditions, ” said one of the protesters. “Meaning that the voter comes and elects without any conditions.”
The protesters made further demands for polling stations in the internally displaced people (IDP) camps located in the outskirts of Baghdad, which currently house an estimated 3,000 families originating from the Kurdistan Region.
The concerns raised by Iraq’s Kurdish population over their capacity to participate in the 12th May election follows previous concerns raised by NGOs operating in the country, who argue that the government’s push for a fast repatriation of the country’s displaced population is to allow them to vote in their respective constituencies.
However, provincial governments have opened numerous polling stations within IDP camps across the country. Following the protests, the electoral commission confirmed that the ability for displaced people to vote is not based on their origin. Instead, their participation in the election will be based on their location, including for those living in IDP camps.
Furthermore, when responding to the protesters demands for additional polling stations in Sulaimaniyah, the High Independent Committee for Elections and Referenda confirmed that additional polling stations will be set up for a further 180,000 displaced people currently residing in 28 IDP camps across Iraqi Kurdistan.