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Vote count underway in Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary election

By Rudaw 30/9/2018
Voters at an Erbil polling station participate in the Kurdistan Region's parliamentary election on September 30, 2018. Photo: Mohammed Shwani | Rudaw
Voters at an Erbil polling station participate in the Kurdistan Region's parliamentary election on September 30, 2018. Photo: Mohammed Shwani | Rudaw

That's all from Rudaw English tonight. Check in again tomorrow for more results and reaction.


10:41 p.m.

Polling station staff threatened, forced out: election commission 

Election commission officials say they have lost contact with some polling stations in Sulaimani province.

Some employees told the commission they are unable to count the ballots because they have been threatened and forced to leave, the commission said.  

“We no longer have contact with some of the stations [in Sulaimani],” Ismail Khurmali, a commission official, told a press conference in Erbil.

“When we contact some stations, the [responsible] man is at home or even fears sitting at home. He says ‘What station? I have escaped and I am not at the station. They are not letting us to count.’”

The commission did not give further details on who had issued the threats. 


10:11 p.m.

KDP files complaints with election commission over alleged fraud, abuses 

Khasrou Goran, head of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) election body, says the party has filed complaints with the election commission concerning allegations of fraud and assault against election monitors. 

“We hope the commission fairly, legally, and transparently deals with the complaints filed by the political parties without bias or without accepting any pressure,” said Goran in a statement. 

“We as the KDP haven’t been satisfied with the entire process. We have filed complaints. Official complaints have been filed. We hope the commission answers the complaints of the parties.”

“In some place in Sulaimani and Koya, some representatives in some polling stations have been beaten, assaulted, or kicked out. Many party representatives have left these stations.”

He said there had been pressure exerted over political parties. “We hope the commission takes strong measures against the employees or parties that have violated the measures of the commission.”

“There has been a lot of fraud in some places.”

“We all have to be committed to the commission. We can’t say we don’t accept the results. KDP and PUK have representatives in the commission.”


8:50 p.m.

UK diplomats monitor election in Erbil and Sulaimani 



UK ambassador to Iraq John Wilks was in Erbil on Sunday to monitor the freedom and fairness of the Kurdistan Region parliamentary election.


“We’ve been encouraging participation and we’re looking forward to the early announcement of results,” Wilks said in a video statement posted on the embassy’s social media accounts. 


“We think the quick formation of a new government and a new parliament with a lot of hope for the next couple of years ahead should mean something better for the people of the Kurdistan Region and this is part of our support for democracy in Iraq.”


British Consul General to the Kurdistan Region Martyn Warr meanwhile was in Sulaimani monitoring the vote.

“We want three things. First, for the day to go well so that people can exercise their democratic right and vote. Secondly, for a high turnout so that people can have an influence over the government that is being formed. And thirdly, a new government formed quickly that is progressive and reformist so that they can deliver for the people of Kurdistan,” he said in a video posted on social media. 



Election commission releases official turnout figures

Erbil: 58%
Sulaimani: 53%
Duhok: 61% 
Halabja: 61%

No overall figure has been confirmed.

Results are expected within 72 hours.




8:14 p.m. 


KRG security chief Masrour Barzani congratulates voters


7:14 p.m.

Qubad Talabani says it is ‘too early to reject election results’


Qubad Talabani, deputy KRG prime minister, told Rudaw in a phone call it is “too early to reject the results of the election”. His comments contradict earlier claims by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)'s spokesperson that the party has rejected the results. 


Talabani said the PUK has “faith in the administrative and legal procedures” of the electoral commission.


One of the reasons behind the low turnout is that the people of the Kurdistan Region are “tired” of elections, he said. 


Talabani criticized the election commission for decreeing voters must carry several ID documents “late”. The commission should have published the anti-fraud measures at least 48 hours earlier, he said.


Talabani said “no elections are flawless ... The first winners [of election] are the people of Kurdistan.”




6:25 p.m.


KDP alleges election fraud in Sulaimani, PUK spokesman rejects results 


The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leadership council in Sulaimani and Halabja issued a statement shortly before polls closed at 6pm on Sunday alleging widespread election fraud in Sulaimani province. 


Meanwhile, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)'s spokesman Sadi Pira said the party has rejected the results outright.


Pira said because of recorded violations, the PUK rejects the election results and has called on its representatives not to approve the ballots. 


His comments were quickly removed from PUK media after KRG Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani said it is too soon to reject the results.


The KDP said it respects the authority of the election commission. 


“The High Independent Election Commission is the sole relevant authority in organizing the mechanism and measures of voting,” a spokesperson said in a statement. 


“We strongly reject any meddling or obstruction of the legal work of the commission.”


“We from the Kurdistan Democratic Party leadership council of Sulaimani and Halabja express our full support for the commission and are committed to its recommendations.”


“We condemn any breaches or destructive acts to derail the vote and will of the people of this area by anyone or any party. We will attribute the responsibility of derailing the process and future occurrences to the violators.”





6:00 p.m.


Polls close in Kurdistan Region’s parliamentary election


Polling stations across the Kurdistan Region are now closed. Stay tuned for preliminary results from Rudaw’s correspondents as we get them.


Party monitors watch vote counting at this polling station in Erbil, September 30, 2018. Photo: Rudaw video





5:42 p.m.


KRG makes Monday a national holiday 


The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) released a statement on Sunday afternoon, announcing Monday will be “a national holiday due to the fact that a large number of public servants are monitoring Kurdistan's parliamentary election process”.




5:31 p.m.


Koya party monitors allege fraud, military personnel inside polling stations 


Election monitors from four Kurdish parties in Koya have issued a statement claiming “a large number of security forces were present inside voting centers” in breach of the election commission’s anti-fraud measures. 


Representatives of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Change Movement (Gorran), Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal), and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) told media their observers had seen “forged” identity papers, specifically jinsya citizenship documents.


Late on Saturday night the election commission said voters must bring both their national ID card and their citizenship papers in order to vote.


The commission also said if military personnel are found to have entered a polling station, all ballots cast at that station would be disregarded.




5:28 p.m.

US Consul General in Erbil urges voters to cast ballots as deadline looms 


Steve Fagin, the US Consul General to Erbil, “visited several polling stations in Erbil today to watch the electoral process,” according to a statement on the consulate’s Facebook page. 


“We encourage all citizens of the Kurdistan Region to exercise their democratic right to vote and head to the polls before they close.”




2:57 p.m.


Voting time will not be extended, the election commission announced.


Votes in stations not closed by 6 p.m. will not be counted.



2:57 p.m.

Election body steadfast on changes to Saturday's decree


The election commissions will stick to their six-point decree, the body announced.

On Saturday, the election commission announced a six-point plan that included a ban on military personnel entering polling stations and being required to show identity papers.

The commission added they will make no changes to the decree

Soon after the commission announcement on Saturday, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) rejected the measures, arguing the changes were being made in the 11th hour and were partisan. 



1:45 p.m.


UN Rep to Iraq encourages Kurdistan's voters to participate

"Still there is time. People go and vote. The polling stations, polling centers are open 'til 6 o'clock," the UN Secretary's-General Special Representative to Iraq said at a press conference in Erbil.

There is still time to go and express your political will and to vote in the future parliament and in the future parliament — your true representatives. This is your chance."

The election commission released low turnout numbers midday, which aren't unusual for elections in the Kurdistan Region. Previously, voting hours have been extended.

He acknowledged "good preparations, although in a short period of time.” 

"I hope indeed that the turnout will be high and that the procedures will be followed in such a way that all political parties will have the full confidence and accept the results of the elections," said Kubis.



The United Kingdom's Consulate General in Erbil sent its "best wishes" to the people of the Kurdistan Region "participating in democracy."

They tweeted a graphic of the Kurdistan Region's election body ballot box logo and a photo of the Parliament of the Kurdistan Region.



"Exercise your right, go and vote," the tweet added.



11:55 a.m.

Travel ban until 6 p.m. between provinces


A travel ban that went into effect at 7 a.m. between provinces in the Kurdistan Region remains in effect until 6 p.m.


The move is to protect polling stations on voting day.


The election commission commended the security situation during early voting for Peshmerga and other security personnel on Friday.




10:59 a.m.

Election Commission: Process is going smoothly 


Under the watchful eyes dozens of international observers, media, and journalists, Kurdistan's election body says the process is proceeding smoothly.

"We urge the electorate to produce necessary documents in order to be able to vote," said Aram Bradosty from the commission. It detailed the documents required to vote on Saturday.

He noted that 50 international organizations have registered to oversee the process.

Additionally, 35 media outlets covering the Kurdistan Region's first election since 2013. to cover the process



10:35 a.m.

KRSC security head Barzani hopes process is clean and smooth 


Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, voted in Pirmam.

"I hope the process proceeds cleanly and smoothly," he said.

The election commission on Saturday thanked security forces for no incidents during early voting for Peshmerga and other security apparatus on Friday.



He said it is KDP's right to take the Iraqi presidency. 


The KDP is the largest party in the Kurdistan Region — both in the parliament in Baghdad and in Erbil.



"The success of the election process is success for all parties," added Barzani, son of KDP President Masoud Barzani.




9:55 a.m.

Kosrat Rasul calls for unity between KDP and PUK

PUK’s acting leader Kosrat Rasul voted in Sulaimani.


“It is a legitimate right of the people to vote,” said Rasul, a veteran Peshmerga.



He called for unity among parties, naming the PUK and KDP.


PUK holds the third-most seats in the parliament and faces competition in its stronghold of Sulaimani from smaller parties and Gorran, which seeks to rebuild following a dismal performance in Iraq’s parliamentary election.




9:50 a.m.

New Generation boss hopes for 'real changes'

Shaswar Abdulwahid voted in the parliamentary election in Sulaimani.

He said he hopes the vote leads to "real change" for the Kurdistan Region.

Abdulwahid urged voters to participate in order to express what type of government they want.


New Generation was established this year. It won a surprising four seats in Iraq's parliamentary election.

Asked about the Iraqi presidency, he replied: "unfortunately, this post does not have any weight or benefit for the Kurdish nation."

New Generation's focus in Baghdad will be legislation, not posts. They are in an alliance with incumbent Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi as government formation continues.

"What is really important for us is to present bills," he said.



9:42 a.m.

Head of PUK's Erbil branch says this election will impact 'services' for the people


Shalaw Kosrat Rasul, the head of PUK's branch in Erbil, voted in Sulaimani.

"We want the four next years to be those of services and serving the people of Kurdistan," he said.


Shalaw is the son of acting PUK leader Kosrat Rasul. Their list is headed by Qubad Talabani, son of the party's late co-founder and leader Jalal Talabani.



9:35 a.m.

Change Movement urges high participation


Gorran (Change Movement) leader Omar Sayid Ali voted from Sulaimani.


"I urge people to vote. Their votes can create political changes in governorance," Ali told reporters.

The party has been in opposition of the PUK-KDP dominated government. This is the first election in the Kurdistan Region for Gorran without its late founder Nawshirwan Mustafa. 



Gorran holds the second-most seats in Kurdistan's parliament, but performed poorly in Iraq's parliamentary election on May 12 and alleged fraud by other parties in Kurdistan. 

"I call on the commission to stay neutral and prevent fraud," said Ali. "Gorran is committed to decisions made by the electoral commission."


It seeks to reestablish its stature facing several smaller parties and the rival PUK in their powerbase of Sulaimani.




9:13 a.m.

Masoud Barzani votes in parliamentary election: 'We all need eachother'


Masoud Barzani, president of the KDP, voted at a polling station in Pirmam where foreign monitors are overseeing the election process.


He wished success for all political parties.


A nation decides the weight of parties, he explained.


"We all need each other," he said because he believes that is what will make the Kurdish nation successful.



8:45 a.m.

'Kaka Hama' urges unity as Kurdistan heads to the polls


Mohammed Haji Mahmood, leader of the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, called on the people of Kurdistan Region to cast their votes and practice their natural right.


On the question of the Iraqi presidency, Mahmood, urged the political parties to enter the Iraqi parliament hall with a sole candidate, not seven.



Mahmood also urged the electoral commission to prevent any violations from taking place.


Although coming from a smaller party, Mahmood or "Kaka Hama" is seen as a uniting force in the Kurdish political scene, putting the interests of the Peshmerga, in particular, ahead of partisanship. 




8:05 a.m.

KRG Prime Minister, deputy PM vote


Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government casted his vote as polls opened in Erbil. He is deputy head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). He encouraged eligible voters to go and cast their ballot.


"I hope the results of the vote are respected because it's about the people's choice for a new parliament and government," said Barzani.



His deputy prime minister, Qubad Talabani who is a member of the PUK, also voted as polls were opening in Sulaimani. 



Qubad Talabani described the elections as a "national duty" and a "right" to be practiced by the people of Kurdistan.

Talabani expressed the over the last decade's political developments in the Kurdistan Region have made people more aware.

"I believe this election will change the political equations in Kurdistan,” he said.

The previous parliament was filled with bitter divisions which prevented legislature from being passed.

"This country is in need of an environment where we could live and have politics in peace. We have to learn to live with differences and disagreements,” urged Talabani.



12:01 a.m.

Polls open at 8 a.m. for Kurdistan Region parliament election

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Polling stations across the Kurdistan Region open at 8 a.m. on Sunday in the first parliamentary elections held in the semi-autonomous Region since 2013.


The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) was due to hold elections in 2017, but they were deferred as a result of the Region’s independence referendum. 


Voters will have the opportunity to pass judgment on the government’s record following five turbulent years, which saw a budget crisis, the war with ISIS, and the referendum, which led to the loss of territory when Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk and other disputed areas in October last year. 


It also takes place against the backdrop of government formation talks in Baghdad, where Kurdish parties hope to bolster their position and increase their influence.


Peshmerga and other security forces cast their ballots early on September 28. Turnout was high across the Region, according to official figures released by the election commission: Erbil 92 percent, Sulaimani 89 percent, Duhok 93 percent, and Halabja 93 percent.


Critics say the KRG has disenfranchised health workers and prison inmates, after their respective ministries failed to register these groups by the election commission deadline. 


Kurds living in diaspora will also be denied a chance to vote because the commission lacked the funds to establish polling stations abroad. 


Several parties have voiced concerns about the freedom and fairness of the election after irregularities in Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary election led to a partial manual recount of ballots. 


The election commission insists it has taken measures to clean the election register of repeated names and deceased voters, and has decided not to use electronic voting machines, which critics claim are vulnerable to tampering. 


Controversially, the commission also plans to photograph voters and their documents on arrival at polling stations to prevent repeat voting. 


International observers, including officials from several foreign consulates, will visit polling stations through the day to monitor proceedings. 



Gund | 30/9/2018
Great day .The Kurdish people will punish the traitors. Kurdistan voted for independence.
Guokl | 30/9/2018
Another stupid game
Hamid Sayadi | 30/9/2018
Same "Tass" and same "Hammam"!
Gunrash | 30/9/2018
Let's see where this charade takes us this time..
KPatriot | 1/10/2018
Even though theyre much better than any of The regimes pccupying our land, The Reason for The Low turnout is due to most leading positions in KRG is held by a person WHOs name ends with either Talabani or barzani. How is this real Democracy?

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