Iraq’s Kurdistan region launches early voting

Iraq’s Kurdistan region launches early voting
Thu Sep 19, 2013 22:37:11

Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region has begun early voting a couple of days ahead of the area’s fourth parliamentary elections.

Among those that went to polls on Thursday were tens of thousands of the region’s security forces in the run-up to the regional election on September 21.

Muqdad al-Shuraifi from the Independent High Electoral Commission said there are about three million eligible voters in Kurdistan, adding that some 150,000 members of the security forces could vote on Thursday to be able to secure the polling stations on Saturday.

Some 1,130 candidates are vying for a seat in the 111- seat parliament.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by regional President Masoud Barzani, are the main contenders in the legislative race.

"So far, the process is going on smoothly and we have not registered any irregularities," al-Shuraifi said.

Kurdistan has been an autonomous region of Iraq since 1991, when a US-Britain no-fly zone helped protect the region from the forces of Iraq’s executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

Baghdad and the Kurdistan region have been at odds over a number of issues, including oil production and lands.

The Kurds are determined to maintain their autonomy and develop their own oil resources. They have signed contracts on their own terms over the past years, causing resentment in Iraq’s central government.

Baghdad and the Kurdistan region also lay claim to a tract of land that stretches from Iraq's eastern border with Iran to its western frontier with Syria.