Kurds Threaten to Block Iraqi Election

Dispute over Kirkuk holds up passage of new election law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 29, 2009 4:18 AM CDT
Kurdish regional President Massoud Barzani, left, talks with newly elected Prime Minister of the Kurdish region Government of Iraq Barham Saleh prior to a swearing-in ceremony yesterday.   (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)
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(Newser) – A dispute over the oil-rich province of Kirkuk is threatening to delay the Iraqi elections scheduled for January and push Arab-Kurd tensions past the breaking point. Kurdish lawmakers in the Iraqi parliament have vowed to block a vote on a new election law unless authorities agree to use voter records from 2009 in the election, instead of records from 2004 when the population was more heavily Arabic.

Kirkuk was historically Kurdish, but Saddam Hussein's regime forced tens of thousands of Kurds out of the city to make it more heavily Arabic. Many of the displaced Kurds have now returned. Massoud Barzani, president of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, said incorporating Kirkuk into Kurdistanis the only solution, AP reports. "We want it to be annexed to our region because the majority of its population" is Kurdish, he said.