Gunmen lay siege to Kirkuk voting stations, block count

18 May, 2018, 00:46 | Author: Wade Massey
  • Masoud Barzani discusses post-election stage with senior Iraqi leaders

Gunmen in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk on Wednesday besieged several polling stations with electoral staff still inside, four days after a national vote took place, the head of the electoral commission said. But elections commissioner Riad al-Badran, who had alleged the armed takeover of the election office, said election workers were unable to send results from 186 ballot boxes.

"The employees of the commission are in a hostage situation", he told a news conference. Such hostages situations might become a growing problem if the recounts are expanded nationwide, as Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi has suggested.

"Tension is mounting in Kirkuk as Turkmen continue to demonstrate for their rights", al-Salihi said.

The figures by the Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) showed the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was the front-runner, accounting for 90 percent of votes in the ethnically mixed province of Kirkuk with 184,373 votes, while the Arab Coalition came in the second place.

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In the run-up to the election last week, Turkmen and Arab residents of Kirkuk province had cried foul amid reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines, which were used for the first time in Iraqi elections.

Saturday's elections were the first since the defeat of IS past year by Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition, but the turnout fell far short of previous elections with only 44.5 percent of registered voters participating.

The elections, the first since al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State group last December, passed without any reports of major violence.

According to the election commission, around 10.8 million Iraqis out of 24 million eligible voters took part in the vote, with a turnout of 44.52 percent. The record low turnout was partly blamed on a curfew and restrictions on movement of vehicle.

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