Kurdistan Regional Government
Statement of the Higher Commission for Municipal
Following are the results of the Municipal Elections
conducted in Iraqi Kurdistan on 26 May 2001
According to law no.6 (1993), Law of
Administration of Municipalities, and article-21 of Order no. 1
(2001) issued by the Council of Ministers, the Order regarding
elections and announcement of results for mayors and members of
municipal councils in the Kurdistan Regional Government, the
Higher Commission headed by Mr. Sami Abdul Rahman, Deputy Prime
Minister in the Council of Ministers, with members Mr. Fadhil
Merani, Minister of the Interior; Mr. Mamun Brifkani, Minister
of Municipalities & Tourism; Mr. Hadi Ali, Minister of Justice;
Mr. Akram Mantik, Governor of Erbil; Mr. Nechirvan Ahmed,
Governor of Duhok; Mr. Haji Mohamed Tahir, Attorney General; and
Dr. Sahib Kharaman, head of the Regional Statistics Office; met
for the twelfth time on 27 May 2001.
On 16 April 2001, the Commission began according to the above
Order to organize the process of municipal council elections. To
supervise the election process, the Commission formed a number
of legal committees headed by judges, deputy attorney generals,
and judge investigators. These committees began their duties on
time according to the Order under the direction of the Higher
Supervisory Commission headed by a judge.
At eight o'clock on the morning of 26 May 2001 the process of
voting promptly started at all election centers and continued up
to eight o'clock in the evening of the same day, according to
article-16 of the Order. As required by some election centers to
meet the need of the voters, time was extended up to ten o'clock
of the same day.
The election process was very well organized, including the
preparation of computerized lists of eligible voters, official
ballot papers and ballot boxes, and meeting the requirements of
staff working in the election centers. In addition to managing
the process properly, good attention was given to maintaining
law and order and a high level of cooperation among voting staff
at the election centers.
The election took place in a very calm and democratic
environment, and in a fair manner. Voting secrecy was promoted
by the use of proper voting booths with the presence of
observers at all election centers plus an election observation
committee composed of staff members of both Salahaddin and Duhok
Universities and staff members of the international community.
All observers had the opportunity to perform their functions
We gladly acknowledge that citizens participated
enthusiastically with a heavy turnout to elect their
representatives to the municipal councils. In addition to
exercising their legal democratic rights, they once again
expressed their confidence in the Kurdistan Regional Government
experiment. They proved their support for progress in the
democratic process and that the interests of the people are
above all other considerations.
It was observed that, in general, illiterate people followed the
advice of the Commission; family members accompanied many to
complete the ballots for them. The freedom of voting for these
citizens was thus insured according to their will.
This Commission observed that all committees in the region and
all election centers respected the rules and instructions of the
election, particularly the closing and opening of the ballot
boxes, observing the maximum limit of confidentiality in the
process of voting, counting the votes in a transparent manner,
and preparing signed minutes of committee meetings declaring the
results of the election.
Immediately after the completion of the extended time for voting
the committees in the election centers, in a transparent manner
and in the presence of representatives of the candidates,
started the process of counting the votes. The committee,
according to article-9 of the Order, forwarded official minutes
of meetings containing the results to the Higher Commission for
We gratefully acknowledge with thanks the contribution of all
respected judges, deputies of the attorney general, judge
investigators, lawyers, representatives of parties, and all the
men and women who participated in voting and counting who
offered their best efforts to accomplish this process in a
According to article-21 of the Order, the Higher Commission for
Municipal Elections hereby announces the names of candidates who
succeeded to be elected as mayors and members of municipal
Mr. Sami Abdul Rahman
Deputy Prime Minister
Council of Ministers
Head of Higher Commission for
Mr. Fadhil Merani
Minister of Interior
Mr. Nechirvan Ahmed
Governor of Duhok
Mr. Akram Mantik
Governor of Erbil
Sheikh Mamun Brifkani
Minister of Municipalities & Tourism
Mr. Hadi Ali
Minister of Justice
Mr. Haji Akrayee
Head of Attorney General's Office
Dr. Sahib Khraman
Head of Regional Statistic Office
Election Observation Report
Municipal Elections in Iraqi Kurdistan Region (Erbil and Duhok
On May 26, 2001 the local authorities in Erbil and Duhok
Governorates of Iraqi Kurdistan held elections for the Municipal
posts of Mayor and Municipal members in the region.
At the request of the Deputy Prime Minister an independent
Observation Committee was established with a view to providing
an overview of the voting and vote counting process for the
elections. The mandate for this group did not extend to any
assessment of the procedures leading up to Election Day, nor the
process of campaigning that preceded it. The group established
was made up of 44 members of the academic staff of Erbil and
Duhok Universities, supported by a smaller group of 11
international persons. The Observation Committee was chaired by
Dr. Dashty B. Dzay in Erbil, with a Deputy, Dr. Ali Mekail Ali,
in Duhok. The international volunteers assisted with the
training of the group (drawing on guidelines devised by the
Electoral Reform Society in London and OSCE, the Organization
for Security & Co-operation in Europe) and as technical advisors
on Election Day itself, deploying alongside a local observer.
The purpose for establishing the Observation Committee was to
increase local confidence in the process and provide some basic
assessment of the outcome to the national and international
On Election Day, 20 two-person observation teams were deployed
in Erbil and 12 teams in Duhok. According to reports submitted
by the teams to the Chairpersons of the Group over 165 polling
stations were visited during the voting period, representing 57%
of the total number of 289 polling stations. The 32 teams then
went on to observe the counting process following the closure of
the polls in 32 stations, representing 11% of the total number
According to these written reports the following general
conclusions were found and recommendations made:
General findings and conclusions:
· The observers were welcomed in all centers visited and
officials of the centers and the representatives of the parties
and independent candidates alike were keen to emphasize the
importance they attached to ensuring that the process was
scrutinized to ensure that it was free and fair. It is
understood that in each Election Center the chairman was legally
· Other than in one case (which was delayed by 30 minutes), the
polling stations all opened on time and generally had all
materials and equipment present to allow voting to commence on
time. The layout of the stations was also complete including
security of access to the stations, adequacy of staff and
presence of appropriate facilities for votes to be cast in
secret. Each station had a number of double booths to allow
voting in private with a helper if needed for illiterate
· There were no campaign materials seen inside any of the
polling stations. However, there were a few instances of posters
within the vicinity of the entrances of the centers. The
Chairperson of the center sometimes ordered these removed
without prompting. There were some cases witnessed of
pre-printed lists of candidates being discreetly distributed to
voters by activists of the parties. This was in violation of
campaigning rules to cease activity 24 hours before polling
· In a small number of cases facilities were somewhat cramped,
especially for the counting process that had to take account of
the fact that in Erbil city in particular there were 185
candidates on the voting list, for as many as 7000 voters. In
one case the cramped facilities were compounded by poor
management of the station resulting in a chaotic situation at
the opening of the center.
· The identification of voters by means of ID cards and issuing
of the correct number of voting papers was generally well
carried out, although the Chairperson in one or two centers had
to issue reminders to the staff issuing voting papers on the
correct procedures. The voting lists were found to be generally
accurate and under-18 years of age that appeared were invariably
identified and prevented from voting.
· Although the layout of the centers (including curtained
polling booths) provided the opportunity for individuals to vote
in secret, in practice small groups of the same family often
chose to enter the booth together.
· The length and complexity of the voting process, which
required voters to write the names of up to sixteen chosen
candidates from lists of as many as 185 names sometimes led
voters to write the lists outside the booth where the full list
of candidates were posted. Many voters used pre-printed lists
prepared by the various parties. In one or two stations a
complete list of candidates was posted inside each booth, which
was a helpful and legitimate aid to voting.
· Assistance for illiterate voters was present, but often not in
sufficient numbers to prevent long delays given the large number
in many centers. The expectation that illiterate voters would be
accompanied by a literate family member entitled to vote at the
same center often proved incorrect.
· The decision to extend hours for voting from 20:00 to 22:00
hours was taken by the Higher Election Committee. The decision
was poorly and belatedly communicated, disrupting the process of
closure, and in one case, where the count had already started,
forcing it to be suspended and the center reopened. In some
other outlying areas' cases the instruction was never received.
· There appeared to be some confusion regarding the process to
commence the count (possibly compounded by the late decision to
extend the voting hours) and resulting in protracted discussions
and some delays before the counts began.
· The mechanism chosen to count the votes (with a single verbal
reading of each individual ballot paper) was highly transparent
but also exceptionally laborious and time consuming. Given the
number of candidates contesting the elections this resulted in
counts lasting well into the next day and officials being so
tired that it potentially reduced the overall effectiveness of
· The reconciliation process to account for all ballot papers
issued to each polling station was incomplete, in that no exact
record was required of the numbers of papers received, issued,
used, spoilt and unused papers remaining.
· In general the poll and count as we have observed it was
largely well organized and showed a high level of commitment and
enthusiasm by local officials, representatives and voters alike.
When asked, the representatives of the candidates present at the
centers expressed themselves to be satisfied with the conduct of
the voting and counting process. However, in one case party
representatives declined to sign off on the results, stating
that they had not been authorized to do so.
· Greater emphasis should be placed on the media in the run up
to the election order to improve voter awareness of the purpose
of elections, and the actual voting process. Particular
attention needs to be given to the needs of illiterate voters.
Efforts to reduce illiteracy nationally will help.
· More training and direction is required for election officials
to ensure a consistent approach to key issues and how to deal
with most eventualities on the ground. The use of case studies
and role-play in training should be increased. This especially
applies to the chairman and staff running election Polling
Station Committees. Past observers could lend their experience
to such training.
· Clearer and more detailed written instructions on key points
should be issued by the Higher Election Committee to Polling
Station Committees, and incorporated in the training they
· The voter Registration lists should be as up-to-date as
possible and revised for this purpose close to any actual
· The arrangements for early voting (pre-voting) in a central
area by officials, staff and official observers involved in the
elections should be properly conducted according to correct
polling station rules. The ballot papers issued and used should
be precisely accounted for like any other ballot papers in the
election. (See also Recommendation 14 below).
· Posting full candidate lists inside the polling booths can
increase the use of booths for voting and safeguard the secrecy
of voters in exercising their choices.
· The Higher Election Committee should consider devolving
decision-making to extend the voting hours to the individual
Center Committee in order that it be taken with regard to local
circumstances and needs-such as the continuing pressure of
voting. It is noted however that the Higher Committee may still
view uniformity of opening as an important need as they seek to
educate an inexperienced electorate.
· The number of independent observers should be increased so
that each Polling Station can be observed at least part of the
· All election officials should, before the election starts,
sign a formal written declaration that they will uphold the
rules and secrecy of the voting process.
· The number of polling officials should be increased to cover
those polling stations with large voter populations. Lists of
officials should be organized and displayed according to a shift
system to cover the entire period of the poll and count,
allowing each official adequate rest periods. The needs of
illiterate voters, who have not brought a companion helper,
should be adequately met by local election officials who have
also taken a sworn promise in writing to carry out the voters'
wishes correctly and in secrecy.
· The number of polling stations in an election should be
increased to ensure the maximum number of voters is manageable
(for example, no more than 3000 voters per polling station).
· The electoral authority should adopt a system that allows for
multiple counts of the votes to be conducted at the same time.
· In order to increase the effectiveness of both voting and
counting procedures, it would also be advisable to use
pre-printed ballots to be marked by the voter, without the need
to handwrite their choices.
· A simple Results Protocol form should be introduced to ensure
that each and every ballot paper can be accounted for throughout
the voting and counting process. This requirement is vital
particularly where a result may depend upon a small margin of
the votes cast. Accountability in this area is a safeguard
against potential abuse. (See Annex 2).
· General: In future, observers of Duhok, Erbil, and
Sulaimaniyah Governorates could co-operate to share their
experiences and to work together.
Two Annexes are attached, on membership of the Observer
Committee and on accountability of ballots.
Dr. Dashty B. A. Dzay M.R.C.P. (UK), Chairman of the Observation
30 May 2001
Municipal Election May 2001, Iraqi Kurdistan, Erbil and Duhok
List of National OBSERVERS who took part in the Observation of
· Dr. Dashti B. Dzay, Chairman of the Observation Committee
· Dr. Najeeb Toma Rassam
· Mr. Khalid Akram Abbas
· Dr. Yousif Jalal Azeez
· Mr. Jamal Mohammed Aziz
· Dr. Ali Mahmood Assad
· Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed
· Dr. Govend Husain Maolud
· Dr. Sirwan Ali Saleh Rasha
· Dr. Sherko A. Tawfiq
· Dr. Kamal Hamadamin Shekh Younis
· Dr. Ibrahim Ismail Hamarash
· Mr. Husain Ali Wali
· Dr. Khalil Esmail Mohammed
· Dr. Ahmed Merza Merza
· Dr. Wasfi Taher Salih
· Mr. Kamaran Raqib Mufti
· Mr. Tahseen Jameel Salih
· Dr. Mohammed Mustafa Osman
· Prof. Dr. Azad M.A. Nakshbandi
· Dr. Nawzad Waqas Saaid
· Mr. Bzhar Ali Jukal
· Mr. Jawher Fattah Saeed
· Dr. Nabil Adil Fakhri
· Dr. Mustafa Saeed Omer
· Dr. Dara Omer Miran
· Dr. Ali Mekail Ali, Deputy Chairman of the Observation
· Dr. Mohammed Shokri Ahmed
· Dr. Mosleh Mohammed Saied
· Dr. Salim Hassan Haji
· Dr. Saleem Ismail Shahbaz
· Dr. Mohammed Ahmed Ramadan
· Mr. Adnan Muhsen Brifcani
· Dr. Abdullah Yaseen Amedy
· Mr. Zerak Aziz Khan
· Dr. Ihsan Qadir Zangana
· Mr. Lokman Taib Omer
· Dr. Nadhim Sulaiman Abdulaziz
· Mr. Omer Mohammed Nori
· Mr. Jawher Rasheed Mohammed
· Dr. Mohammed Beker
· Dr. Mohammed Salih Zebary
· Mr. Mahdi Qadir Kder
In addition there were 12 individuals from the international
community who acted as technical advisors to the national ones
ACCOUNTABILITY of Ballot Papers
The Election Committee members in the presence of any accredited
Observers in the polling station should:
· Note and record the number of any ballots already received
from pre-voting. (See Recommendation 5 above).
· At the start of polling, count and record the number of ballot
· At the end of polling and before counting starts:
o Count and total the number of ballots remaining unused.
o Pack the unused ballots away safely, (for return to the Higher
Election Committee with other ballot papers at the end of the
o Count the total number of voters who signed the Voters
o Count the number of Spoiled ballots.
At the Count
Count the number of ballot papers used.
After the Count
A). The number of blank ballots received on the day Example
of the election from the Higher Committee 3,500
Add the number of ballot papers received from pre-voting 40
Total Received 3,540
B). The number of ballot papers used by voters and counted 3,000
C). The number of ballot papers spoiled 50
Total Used Plus Spoiled 3,050
D). Those ballot papers unused and left over at the end of the
This tally will make it possible to identify the number of all
ballot papers issued, used, and remaining, so that all are
accounted for. This information should be recorded, among other
information on the Results protocol and witnessed by signature
of the Election officials and accredited representatives of the
parties, in the same way as the result of the count.
IRAQI KURDISTAN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS
26 MAY 2001
Following is a summary of the municipal election results of 26
May 2001 in the Erbil and Duhok Governorates. In all, 85
communities with populations of 3,000 or more participated.
The winning candidates for Mayor and Members of Councils were
all from the KDP.
Erbil Duhok total
Eligible Voters 559,304 327,190 886,494
Ballots Cast 422,912 277,944 700,856
% of Eligible Voters that cast ballots 75.6 85.0 79.0
Ballots for KDP 322,343 245,160 567,503
% for KDP 76.2 88.2 81.0
For complete information, please see Gulan Magazine,
Supplementary Issue 322, published on 31 May 31 2001. It can
also be viewed at the KDP website www.kdp.pp.se/. The results
for all candidates in all 85 communities can be found there.
NEWS ARTICLE: MUNICIPAL RESULTS ARE IN
The Kurdistan Regional Government called for municipal elections
to be held on 26 May 2001 in 85 municipalities with 571 elected
officials where the population was greater than 3,000. In Erbil
and Duhok Governorates, 79 per cent of all eligible voters
answered the call to choose from more than 1,000 candidates that
stood for election either representing one of the 15 political
parties that participated in the elections or as independents.
This year's election corresponded with the 25th anniversary of
the Gulan Revolution and the first time that municipal elections
have been held in the area since 1957-the last time that such
elections were held in Iraq.
For the past few weeks, cities and towns have been awash with
banners, streamers, and colourful campaign posters.
Campaigners were busy all around. Some had tents up with
campaign workers ready to discuss issues. Trucks and vans
decorated in banners patrolled the streets with music blaring or
candidates and their workers broadcasting their platforms.
Discussion and debate were hot at home, at work, and in the
market. People looked forward to having elected representatives
in places of responsibility for their communities. They wanted
more accountable public officials.
According to observers who assisted in the process, it was
"largely well organized and showed a high level of commitment
and enthusiasm by local officials, representatives and voters
alike." Reports indicated that the process was handled
efficiently at all polling stations. Enough staff were available
to keep the lines moving, provide directions, and assist the
voters. Voters filled out their ballots in private booths
constructed for the election.
KDP President Masoud Barzani along with KRG and KDP senior
officials had done everything in their power to ensure that the
elections were free and fair and had legal professionals at
every polling station to ensure the integrity of the
Voter lists were prepared from the United Nations World Food
Programme (WFP) food ration card lists and people picked up
their voter cards at the UN food distribution locations. The WFP
lists were kept up to date on a regular basis. The computerized
database is monitored for irregularities and is a reasonably
accurate record of residents. Those not on the list could
register in advance of the election.
There were 559,304 eligible voters in Erbil Governorate and of
these 422,912 cast ballots (75.6 per cent). In Duhok
Governorate, there were 327,190 eligible voters and 277,944 cast
ballots (85 per cent).
The KDP won in all municipalities by a large margin-81 per cent
of cast ballots. The remaining 19 per cent was shared among the
other parties' candidates and independents with the Islamic
Party taking second place in the balloting. Twenty-two women
were elected in the process. Everyone views these municipal
elections as another significant step towards the
democratization of the region.