The Iraqi government has decided to hold local elections on April 20 of next year.
This decision was taken amidst disputes over pre-election procedures in Kirkuk, an Iraqi province with vast oil riches. Such disputes stem from the conflict between the federal government and the Kurdish authorities.
The spokesperson for the Iraqi government, Ali al-Dabbagh, stated yesterday [Oct. 20] that based on the proposal of the Independent High Electoral Commission, the local elections will be held on Saturday, April 20, 2013.
Iraqi law stipulates that the local government of any province not affiliated with the [Kurdistan] region shall be the highest legislative authority within the administrative border of such province. Accordingly, this authority shall handle the affairs of the relevant province based on the principle of administrative decentralization and in conformity with the federal constitution and laws.
In addition, the Iraqi electoral commission announced that it would open 863 centers to allow voters to register and update their electoral records in all Iraqi provinces, except for Kirkuk and the Kurdistan region. The commission decided to open these centers on Dec. 9.
The registration centers are responsible for updating voters’ data by adding, changing, correcting or annulling the voter’s personal information. Such centers will also verify absentee votes from emigrants.
In 2009, the Independent High Electoral Commission held the final round of local elections in all Iraqi provinces, except Kirkuk.
In fact, the local elections were not held in Kirkuk due to a fierce dispute between various political components within this province. The dispute was mainly related to voters’ records. Each political player in Kirkuk — including Arabs, Turkmen and Kurds — called on the authorities to adopt one specific record from a specific year, given that the percentage of the population represented by each component varies according to each record.
In other news, a police officer in the Anbar province stated that four unknown gunmen invaded the house of Sheikh Lateef al-Obaidi, in the Shuhadaa neighborhood of the Haditha district, west of Ramadi.
The gunmen opened fire on Obaidi, who was killed immediately.
In Anbar province, two Iraqi army officers were injured in a bomb attack, which targeted a patrol in Wadi Khouran in the west Heet district, west of Ramadi.
In the Madaen district, southeast of Baghdad, one civilian was killed and two other Iraqis were injured in a bomb attack. According to a police officer, an IED was planted beside a construction equipment shop, in the city of Jaara in the Madaen district (southeast of Baghdad). The bomb attack killed the owner of the shop and severely injured two passersby.
In the last few days, Iraq has witnessed several bloody attacks that have killed at least 44 Iraqis and injured more than 150. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) — an organization affiliated with al-Qaeda — claimed responsibility for these attacks, which were in response to increasing detentions of Sunnis.
The ISI released a statement on the organization’s website condemning the increasing phenomenon of detaining Sunni women. The organization also confirmed the attacks in Baghdad and other provinces were a message to the Iraqi government, promising the latter would pay dearly for such arrests.