Iraqi Kurds Vote: Delayed Results Amidst Tightened Security
A regional election took place in the northern Kurdish provinces of Iraq Saturday. It is reported 78% of the 2.5 million eligible voters headed to the polls. The self-controlled and semiautonomous Kurdish region will select a new President and a 111-seat Parliament. Kurdistan is a parliamentary democracy with President Massoud Barzani in the head at the moment. Historically, there have been tensions between Kurds and Arabs, some of them stemming from the rich oil reserves centered in Kurdistan. Security was tightened during the election hours. Voting officials say the election went smoothly, despite allegations of violations from opposition.
The two dominant political coalitions, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, face a challenge from new opposition alliances seeking to capitalize on alleged misconduct and corruption.
Current President Barzani is expected to win the election. The current President of Iraq -- Jala Talabani who is a Kurd turned up to express his support fot the election.
Opposition parties have said voters were allowed to cast ballots without identification, polling stations were blocked to opposition observers and campaigning took place after deadline.
Although the region is relatively peaceful, the dual election is taking place under tight security -- some 20,000 troops have been deployed, and voters are allowed to travel to polling stations only on foot or by state-authorized buses.
The results of the election are expected to be announced in several days. Some sources say it could take up to a week to count the ballots. Reuters reports the results are expected on Monday evening.