Iraqi Turkmens seek modest representation in parliament
Iraqi Turkmen Front makes debut at ballot box, as voting ends in Kurdish regional government elections
World Bulletin/News Desk
The Iraqi Kurdish regional government is holding general elections, contested for the first time by the pro-Turkmen political party Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF).
The voting process has ended, says the election authority.
The ITF, founded in 1995 to represent Turkmens in Iraq, says they aim to win three seats out of five allocated to the Turkmen population in the 111-seat Kurdish parliament.
ITF Irbil representative Aydin Maruf calls it a "significant and historic day."
"There have not been any irregularities so far. We hope the elections will bring a good result for Turkmens in Irbil," he said Saturday.
Maruf aslo criticized the Kurdish government for offering them only five seats in the parliament.
"Our quota is too small. The Turkmen population comes second in the region after Kurds. We demand this quota be lifted. If there has to be one, it must be at least 10-15," he said.
- 'Secret' polling station
The voting process, which started 7:00 local time on Saturday, ended as of 17:00, with a 65 percent turnout rate, the election authority has said.
Iraqi Kurdish regional government prime minister Nechirvan Barzani thanked the public for their participation and an uneventful voting event.
Meanwhile, the main opposition party says it will bring legal action against what it claims are violations of electoral rules that "cast doubt on the elections."
The Gorran party has 25 seats in the parliament, standing in opposition to the Kurdistan List, the two-party coalition of Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.
Belen Ismail, Spokesman for the Gorran, said the party was planning to file a complaint against an undocumented polling station.
"Before the elections, we received a list of all stations. But Shoresh polling station was not included on that list. Then, it turned out that ballot boxes were secretly sent there at 11:30. No information has been provided to representatives of any party," Ismail said.
More than 3,000 observers were expected to monitor the elections, among them close to 200 foreign nationals, and over 600 journalists reportedly covered the polls.