- Title: IRAQ: Kurdish protests in Iraq over controversial provincial elections law
- Date: 1st August 2008
- Summary: CARICATURE DEPICTING IRAQI PARLIAMENT SPEAKER MAHMOUD AL-MASHHADANI (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SHABBAN SABRI, KURDISH IRAQI, SAYING: ''We reaffirm our complete rejection of clause 24 of the provincial elections law in Iraq and we call upon the United Nations and international authorities to apply the Iraqi constitution as a thorough solution to all problems.'' VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS TAKING PART IN DEMONSTRATION
- Embargoed: 16th August 2008 03:46
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7FUQYN1VNCOJKIS01ELGBNCGL
- Aspect Ratio: 4:3
- Story Text: Thousands of Kurds took to the streets in Iraq's northern city of Dahuk on Thursday (July 31) to protest against a provincial elections law that has infuriated Iraq's minority.
Demonstrators marched the streets bearing Kurdish flags and banners while chanting slogans against the provincial elections law.
The demonstration came three days after a suicide bomber killed 23 people during a protest over the law in the city of Kirkuk, which lies just outside Kurdistan.
The bombing escalated tensions over the elections law, which sparked controversy when parliament passed it last week partly because it postponed voting in Kirkuk, a city that is disputed between Kurds, Arabs and ethnic Turkmen.
Kurdish lawmakers boycotted the session when it was passed. Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, then rejected the law as unconstitutional and sent it back to parliament.
Kurds regard the oil rich city as their ancient capital and are keen for a vote.
Arabs and ethnic Turkmen want it to stay under central government authority. They believe Kurds have intentionally stacked Kirkuk with Kurds in an attempt to tip the demographic balance in their favour in any ballot.
Thursday's demonstrators demanded Iraqi and Arab leaders take a stance against the law, dubbing it a ''conspiracy'' against Kurdish people.
"We call upon (Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki, (Iraqi parliament speaker Mahmoud) al-Mashhadani and all Arab leaders and we demand from (Kurdistan Democratic Party leader) President Masoud al-Barzani and (Iraqi President) Jalal Talabani, to stand against all these decisions, which are against the Kurdish people. These are not decisions, they are international conspiracies. Conspiracies. Plots against the Kurdish people,'' Sadeq Saaed told Reuters Television.
Shabban Sabri, one of the demonstrators, also said Iraq's Kurds would not accept the law.
''We reaffirm our complete rejection of clause 24 of the provincial elections law in Iraq and we call upon the United Nations and international authorities to apply the Iraqi constitution as a thorough solution to all problems,'' said Sabri.
The elections law outlines procedures for local polls expected to be held this year or early 2009.
The law would have delayed voting in Kirkuk, assigned fixed seat allocations to each ethnic group and replaced Kurdish Peshmerga security forces in the city with troops from other parts of Iraq, all measures Kurdish parliamentarians rejected.
Arabs were encouraged to move to Kirkuk under the rule of former President Saddam Hussein.
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