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Kurdish hopefuls to run for provincial offices as Iran prepares for general elections

2017/04/24 | 09:05

(Iraq News)- ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Nearly 45,000 candidates in Iranian Kurdish regions have registered to run for offices in the upcoming provincial elections in the country set for May 19. Elections for city and provincial offices in Iran will take place simultaneously with the presidential vote next month as the two traditionally opposing camps, the so-called hardliners and the moderates, will compete over legislative offices across the country. Around 9000 candidates have registered in the main Kurdish city of Sanandaj alone which has a population of about 500,000. An increasing number of candidates have been cleared to run for offices this year, a break from previous years’ strict regulations set by the powerful Guardian Council which supervises elections and approval of candidates. The race for city and provincial assemblies in Kurdish inhabited areas is marked by severe ethnic competition between Kurdish and Azeri candidates with both groups trying to secure more legislative offices in regions where both have territorial claims. Kurds have in the past accused Iranian authorities of supporting Shiite Azeris in provinces like Western Azerbaijan where Kurds have had fewer offices in proportion to their population, they say. Kurdish opposition groups, who have in the past encouraged Kurdish voters to boycott presidential elections, are expected to announce their position in the coming days. All three members of parliament representing Western Azerbaijan in Tehran are ethnic Azeris and 12 members of the provincial council have Azeri backgrounds. Official statistics show that only 11 of the 40 local mayors are Kurdish even in areas with clear Kurdish majority, something the current President Hasan Rouhani said his administration would address during the last election campaign. In provinces such as Western Azerbaijan, with a population of 3 million, no Kurd has so far served as the governor despite the Kurdish population constituting more than 65 percent of the population. Of the 17 top government positions in the province where Urmia is the capital, 11 have been assigned to Azeris while 6 positions have gone to the Kurds.

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