After repeated delays, the leading parties in Iraq agreed last month to hold local elections in early April of 2020.
The last local elections in the country, barring Kirkuk, took place in 2013.
The process was due to be held in 2016, but the emergence of the so-called Islamic State and the subsequent war to expel the terrorist organization, as well as a stark political divide on the issue, delayed it on multiple occasions.
Related article: Iraq's electoral commission postpones local elections until April 2020
It is still unclear whether the voting will take place in all provinces across Iraq, especially those that are still struggling to return displaced residents and rebuild infrastructure.
It does not include the four provinces of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, which holds its own local elections as determined by its own electoral commission.
The parliament in a statement noted it voted on a draft bill that amended the “provincial council election law…for the purpose of holding free, fair and fair elections…”
The Monday parliamentary session continued until 10:00 pm local time.
Provincial elections are held to replace the local councils in the country’s governorates.
In Kirkuk, however, only one such poll—in 2005—has taken place since the fall of the former regime in 2003.
Kirkuk is an ethnically-diverse province which consists of Turkmen, Arabs, Christians, and Kurds, who make up the majority of the population.
It is one of the areas disputed by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government of Iraq.
Lawmakers agreed that in Kirkuk, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC)—the body in charge of organizing the vote—would conduct both electronic and manual counting.
In an interview with Kurdistan 24, a spokesman for the Office of the IHEC in Kirkuk, Abdul-Basit Darwish, said that the province is ready for local elections.
In the May 2018 elections, Iraq used an electronic vote-counting system.
Allegations of fraud marred the process, and the national Supreme Court ordered the IHEC to do a partial manual recount of the ballots.
No significant change was observed following this.
Following the legislature’s Monday session, the IHEC welcomed the adoption of the law.
It also called on all eligible voters, especially those displaced from their areas, to visit voter registration centers in their regions to update their information.
Before the country held its May 2018 legislative elections, a number of leading political forces called for local elections to take place along federal ones, but disagreements prevented this.
Editing by Nadia Riva