Early voting begins in Iraq’s Kurdistan region

Early voting has started in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region, two days ahead of the region’s fourth parliamentary elections.

Tens of thousands of security forces cast their ballots on Thursday in the run-up to the September 21 vote.

The election is the fourth in the self-ruled Kurdistan since 1992.

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.

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.

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.

By Press TV


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