By Idris Okuducu
Northern Iraq’s Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) on Wednesday announced its decision to suspend preparations for KRG presidential and parliamentary elections slated for Nov. 1.
“All preparations for the Nov. 1 polls have been temporarily suspended due to recent regional developments and a shortage of candidates,” the KRG’s official electoral commission said in a statement.
According to the same statement, the Erbil-based Kurdish parliament will meet to decide when preparations for the polls will resume.
The announcement has prompted some speculation that -- in light of the instability caused by last month’s illegitimate referendum on Kurdish regional independence -- the KRG elections may be postponed altogether.
On Sept. 25, Iraqis in KRG-controlled-held areas -- and in areas disputed between Baghdad and Erbil -- voted on whether or not to declare full political autonomy from Iraq.
According to poll results announced by the KRG, almost 93 percent of those who cast ballots voted in favor of independence.
The illegitimate referendum had faced sharp opposition from most regional and international actors (including the U.S., Turkey and Iran), who had warned that the poll would distract from Iraq’s fight against terrorism and further destabilize the already-volatile region.
In response to last month’s illegitimate referendum, the Iraqi armed forces in recent days have been deployed in Kirkuk and other disputed areas following the withdrawal of pro-KRG Peshmerga forces.