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Kurds Declare Victory in Iraq Elections

Kurdish parties announced majorities for Kurds in Kirkuk and other disputed areas. Several hours after the polling stations closed in Kirkuk city, Kurdish people went on the street to celebrate the victory.

Patriot Union Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) -owned satellite TV stations stated that the Kurdistan Alliance leads the polls in Kirkuk.

According to preliminary results published by the PUK and KDP, the Kurdistan Alliance won 8 seats out of 12 seats allocated to Kirkuk province.

The parties said PUK candidates won six seats and KDP two. Iyad Allawi's List (Iraqya) came second and the State of Law third in Kirkuk.

In Kurdistan, like elsewhere in Iraq, polling stations opened at 7 a.m. while the majority of its inhabitants were still sleeping since it was a day off. At that time, only political party leaders stood in front of the polling stations, ready to vote.

Iraqi President and General Secretary of the PUK0, Jalal Talabani, was the first person in all of Iraq to cast his vote. In Roshn Badrkhan School in Sulaimaniyah city, where he voted, he called on Iraqi people to participate in the election with all of their energy.

"I do not think that these elections will change the political map in Iraq. There may be little changes," Talabani told reporters. "I believe that the major parties currently ruling the country will continue to rule in the future with the participation of other parties that want to take part."

Until 10am, polling stations remained quiet. After that, voters in traditional Kurdish dress began showing up.

In Kurdistan Region, there was no curfew. People were allowed to drive their cars and go to polling stations in vehicles. And since it was a government holiday, most of the shops were closed. Only a number of restaurants and supermarkets remained open and crowded with customers. Moreover, the roads among the provinces and cities were not closed.

In all Iraqi cities, at 5 p.m., the polling stations were closed. Officials immediately began counting the votes inside polling stations.

On Monday evening, the Iraqi High Independent Electoral Commission (IHEC) said the provinces of Kurdistan Region record biggest voter turnouts.

Hamdiya al-Hussaini, a member of IHEC, said in a press conference in Baghdad, "Duhok has recorded the biggest voter turnout at 80 percent, then Erbil has become second 76 percent and Sulaimaniyah has come third with 73 percent."

At night, the supporters of Kurdistan Alliance (KDP and PUK) in Erbil, Duhok, Kirkuk, Sulaimaniyah and the disputed areas in Mosul went to the streets to celebrate their victory. In addition, the supporters of Goran Movement also celebrated victory in Sulaimaniyah city.

According to preliminary results issued by Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Alliance List won 8 seats out of 12 in Kirkuk (PUK 6 seats and KDP 2). In Erbil, the region's capital, the Kurdistan Alliance won 10 seats out of 14 (KDP 8 seats, PUK 2 seats), Goran won 2 seats in Erbil and the Kurdistan Islamic Union and Kurdistan Islamic Group, each won a seat.

In Duhok province, the Kurdistan Alliance List won 8 seats out of 10 (all of them won by KDP candidates) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) won the other two seats.

In Sulaimaniyah province, both the Kurdistan Alliance and Gorran Movement have declared victory. The counting of votes still continues and it is not clear yet which List leads the election in Sulaimaniyah province. But according reports in the centre of Sulaimaniyah, Goran is ahead.

In Ninewa province, the Kurdistan Alliance List said, the Kurdish List won most of the votes in the disputed areas. The head of Kurdistan Alliance List in Ninewa, Khasro Goran, said according to the initial results, Kurds will win 8 to 10 seats out of 31 seats allocated for Ninewa province.

Meanwhile, Goran accused the Iraqiya List, headed by Iyad Allawi, of fraud, particularly in the centre of Mosul city.

"The turnout at the electoral center in Mosul city is unacceptable," he said.

IHEC announced that results announced by party representatives and election observers are not accurate, and the commission is not responsible for the announcements. Only the commission itself has the power to report election results.

Kurdish parties say they will not rush to form alliances with any Shiite or Sunni political entity.

Sami Shorsh, head of the Kurdistan Alliance List in Erbil province, said: "We will not rush to make an alliance with any Iraqi political entities after the election. We will wait to see which one has faith in Kurdish rights."

Shorsh told Niqash that Kurds are having a difficult time with their current and former Iraqi (Shiite and Sunni) alliances. He warned that Kurdish parties should be very careful and united.

"Some Iraqi political parties that are participating in the upcoming elections are against Kurdish rights and will work to limit Kurdish constitutional rights," he said.

In a congratulatory message to the Iraqi people on the occasion of ending the Iraqi legislative poll, the president of Kurdistan Region Massoud Barzani announced that he was insisting on Kurdish unity on national issues.

"The people of the Kurdistan Region insist on a mutual stance towards the national issues. The representatives of the Kurdistan Region must act together for the implementation of Article 140 relevant to the issues of the disputed areas."

By Qassim Khidhir Hamad
www.niqash.org


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