Iraq urges Kurdistan to respect protests, announces election merger

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi. File photo.

Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi urged Tuesday the country’s northern semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan to respect current protests against the government, also revealing that next May’s parliament and provincial elections would be run simultaneously.

Abadi, speaking during his weekly press conference, urged Kurdistan’s government to “respect the peaceful protests” as the region closes a second day of violent protests decrying delayed employee payments and poor services.

Abadi warned his government would not “stay idle” if any citizen in the region is harmed.

At least five protesters reportedly died while 80 were wounded during today’s clashes with security forces. Many political parties’ offices were also torched.

He also said it was “not possible to disburse all of the region’s salaries due to corruption”.

Delay in the transfer of Kurdistan employees salaries and the sharing of petroleum revenues have both been subjects of longtime contentions between Baghdad and Erbil.

Relations between both governments deteriorated after Erbil ran a vote in September when a majority voted for independence from Iraq.

Away from Kurdistan, Abadi also declared that the upcoming parliament and municipal elections slated for May would be run at the same time. “The cabinet has decided to run the governorates’ councils and legislative elections simultaneously.

“There is no reason for delaying the elections,” Abadi stressed.

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