More than 50 MPs resign from Iraqi Kurdish region’s parliament to protest court ruling


Irbil (AP) — More than 50 members of the local parliament in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north have submitted their resignations to protest a court decision that deemed as unconstitutional the legislature’s postponement of elections by a year.

Jihad Hassan, an MP with the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which holds the largest number of seats in the autonomous region’s parliament, said Tuesday that all 45 members of its bloc had resigned the day before from the 111-member parliament, along with nine MPs from other parties.

The Federal Supreme Court in Baghdad last month ruled against the regional parliament’s decision in October to extend its legislative term, delaying the regional election by a year. The decision came in response to a lawsuit filed by opposition political figures challenging the legality of the extension.

Since its inception in 1992, the Kurdish region has conducted five parliamentary elections, with the most recent one taking place in 2018.

The wave of resignations comes at a time when political tensions among Kurdish parties have reached a peak. During a regional parliament session in May, a dispute between members of the KDP and the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan party escalated into physical altercations involving the throwing of punches and plastic water bottles.

Legal expert Ali al-Tamimi said the Kurdistan government will act as a caretaker government with limited powers since the region’s parliament has reached the end of its constitutionally mandated term.

He added that the tenure of the regional election commission has also ended, making it ineligible to organize elections. In such cases, al-Tamimi said, the responsibility for conducting the region’s elections falls to the Independent High Electoral Commission in Baghdad, rather than the regional commission.

The resignation of the majority of lawmakers could impact ongoing negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad that aim to restart oil exports from the Kurdish region by way of Turkey, which have been stopped due to a legal dispute.

A $152 billion budget passed earlier this month after months of contentious discussions solidifies Baghdad’s authority over the oil sector and allocates 12.6% of the revenue to the Kurdish region.

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