The Kurdistan Region’s Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission (IHERC) has yet to be provided with the funds needed for the referendum anticipated to be held this year on the region’s independence, spokesman Shirwan Zrar said. During a press conference held in Erbil following the committee’s meeting with Kurdish political parties under the auspices of the United Nations, the IHERC spokesman said the allocated money is sufficient only for the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. “An average of 22 billion Iraqi dinars is set to be deposited to the commission’s account for the parliamentary and presidential elections”, Zrar said. A date for holding the Kurdistan Region’s referendum has yet to be scheduled. According to IHERC estimates there are around 3,500,000 eligible voters. The IHERC spokesman said the commission will attempt to use electronic services in the process of counting votes for an efficient process and to announce the result of the elections as soon as possible. The committee has been in touch with the Ministry of Health to combat voter fraud and have clear voter registration rolls, Zrar said.
The elections, which had to be held originally before November, 2016, were postponed by the government, which said it requires more time to register the voters. According to an agreement concluded at the end of December, Joseph Kabila, agreed to leave the presidency after elections planned before the end of 2017. Experts considered that a second adjournment would risk to start a new wave of violent demonstrations: Last year dozens of people died after Joseph Kabila’s refusal to leave the power at the end of its second mandate (the last one according to the Constitution), on December 19th. The president of CENI (an electoral Commission), Crow Nangaa, announced on Friday that the violence in the central province of Kasaï risked to compromise the integrity of the vote. The opponents of Kabila judge that the president intends to postpone the elections up to the organization of a referendum allowing him to run for a third term, an operation used by Paul Kagame in Rwanda too. Kabila denies these charges.