World, Middle East

Iraqi Turkmen, Arabs cry foul over Kirkuk poll glitches

Malfunctioning electronic voting machines raise suspicions in Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province

11.05.2018
Iraqi Turkmen, Arabs cry foul over Kirkuk poll glitches FILE PHOTO

KIRKUK, Iraq

Turkmen and Arab residents of Iraq's Kirkuk province are voicing concern about electronic voting machines that reportedly malfunctioned on Thursday when Iraqi security personnel cast ballots in parliamentary polls.

Ershad Salihi, head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front, told Anadolu Agency on Friday that he had personally witnessed some of the problems and delays that had reportedly hindered yesterday’s vote in Kirkuk. 

“Problems like this will certainly have a negative impact on the credibility of the election process,” Salihi said.

According to the Turkmen politician, “hundreds” of security personnel were deprived of their right to vote in Kirkuk yesterday as a result of the reported technical glitches. 

He went on to note that Kurdish political parties appeared to be leading in areas heavily populated by Arabs, according to preliminary polling results.

“It’s a little suspicious that electronic voting machines will be sent to Sulaymaniyah [in the Kurdish region] for maintenance instead of capital Baghdad,” he said.

Kirkuk Governor Rakan Saeed, for his part, also voiced misgivings about the use of electronic voting machines, which are being used -- for the first time ever -- in Iraqi elections.

“We believe this may be a new method for rigging the vote by certain political parties,” Saeed said, going on to urge Iraq’s official electoral commission to closely monitor the voting process.

On Thursday, Iraqi police, military and other security personnel cast ballots in the country’s first parliamentary poll since 2014, in which more than 7,000 candidates are vying for seats in the country’s 328-member national assembly. 

Voting among the general public is set to take place nationwide on Saturday.

Roughly 24 million out of 37 million Iraqis are registered to take part in the polls.

Reporting by Ali Mukarrem Garip; Writing by Ali Murat Alhas

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