Baghdad Provincial Council. Photo: baladinews
By Miran Hussein
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Kurdish political groups in Baghdad must unite in order to appeal to Kurdish voters in the next parliamentary elections, said a provincial council member in the capital, noting that Kurds had not even bothered to vote in the April local polls.
Fuad Akbar, a newly-elected Kurd in the Baghdad Provincial Council, said that the number of Kurds who voted in the April 20 local elections in the capital was about 50 percent less than the ones who went to the polls in the 2005 provincial polls, where the Kurds won at least 16,000 votes.
“Only about 30 percent of eligible Kurdish voters participated in this election, whereas participation was 70 percent in 2005,” he said.
“The results may have inspired the capital’s Kurdish political parties to become united for the next Iraqi parliamentary election, with the hope of having a Kurdish MP in Baghdad,” said Akbar.
Due to the war, displacement and lack of official registration data, estimates of the number of Kurds living in Baghdad vary widely, with Akbar saying the number does not exceed 200,000 and other sources placing it at about one million.
Akbar said that divisions, including Shiite-Sunni differences among Baghdad Kurds themselves, were responsible for the dismal showing in the April polls.
“Sectarianism and religious background have divided the Kurds in Baghdad. It also cost them votes in Baghdad,” said Akbar, who is himself a Fayli Kurd, a minority Shiite sect among the mainstream Sunni Kurds.
Akbar said that the State of Law bloc, led by the Shiite Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, has promised him the chair of the citizens’ committee in the council. “Being a chair of this committee gives me an opportunity to serve the Kurdish residents in Baghdad,” he said.
He also said their request to hold government posts in Baghdad had been turned down by the major political blocs. “We will independently monitor the actions of government in Baghdad,” he said.
Meanwhile, Baghdad’s Kurdish residents complain of neglect by their political parties.
Akbar said that one of the main issues for Kurds in Baghdad was lack of identification papers. He called on the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to help solve this issue and better serve the Kurds in the capital.