The Iraqi Kurdish authorities announced Tuesday night (October 24th) that they would freeze the results of their independence referendum. They also call for a ceasefire with Baghdad. Also on Tuesday, the Kurdish Parliament voted the eight-month postponement of the parliamentary elections scheduled for 1 November. A report that comes as the autonomous region goes through a historic crisis.
We now know that the elections are postponed until 2018, but this is not a surprise. Last week the Kurdish authorities announced that they were temporarily suspending the organization of elections because of the crisis in the region. The Kurdish authorities will also soon announce a new date for the presidential election, to be held on the same day as the legislative elections.
For the party in power, this is not the time to hold elections as the region collapses. And for good reason, for the last ten days, the Iraqi army has taken from the Kurds the territories they nibbled since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The central government is talking about a redeployment of its authority, the Kurds are evoking a declaration of war. There were clashes sometimes very violent. On both sides, soldiers were killed. Civilians too.
But for Kurdish opposition parliamentarians, postponing elections is a fundamentally undemocratic decision. In fact, they accuse the ruling party of postponing the vote so that Kurdish President Massoud Barzani can continue to govern. Several political parties even call for the abolition of the Kurdish presidency and want negotiations with Baghdad.