May 17, 2018

Iraqi Turkmen: ITF Leader in Plea For Election Recount After Irregularities

Iraqi Turkmen are heavily present in the multi-ethnic Kirkuk province, that has been under significant Kurdish YPG influence since the latter helped oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from Northern Iraq. Unfortunately, Turkmen fear that the Kurdish government may come to dominate this traditionally multi-ethnic and multi-cultural region. Following the controversial Iraq election held the weekend of 12-13 May 2018, the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) believe they have witnessed sufficient irregularities that would demand a recount of the poll. The ITF has traditionally asked for quota seats as a part of a guarantee of Turkmen representation in the Iraqi and Kirkuk parliaments.

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An Iraqi Turkmen politician said Wednesday [16 May 2018] that last week’s parliamentary poll had been rigged and requested a manual recount.

Marouf Aydin, an Erbil-based parliamentarian for the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), complained of voting “irregularities” in northern Iraq’s Kurdish region -- and in Kirkuk -- during Saturday’s general election.

Voicing his “total rejection” of the poll results, Marouf said that the ITF had appealed to Iraq’s official electoral commission for a manual recount.

“The preliminary [poll] results do not reflect the true will of the Turkmen,” he asserted. “We will take any legal steps necessary to safeguard our rights.”

According to preliminary poll results, the ITF clinched about 75,000 votes in Kirkuk and 2,500 in Erbil.

Last Saturday [12 May 2018], Iraqis voted in the country's first parliamentary poll since 2014.

In a related development, Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government, said Tuesday that he would raise the issue with electoral officials in Baghdad.

“We fully understand the concerns of certain political parties regarding the preliminary poll results in the Kurdish region and Kirkuk,” he said.

“The Independent High Electoral Commission must take the necessary steps to clear the air,” Barzani added.

According to the electoral commission, almost 11 million Iraqis -- out of 24 million eligible voters -- took part in Saturday’s vote, representing a turnout of almost 45 percent.

In the run-up to the election last week, Turkmen and Arab residents of Kirkuk had cried foul amid reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines, which were used for the first time in Iraqi elections.


Photo courtesy of Marwan Ibrahim AFP