ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Judges appointed by Iraq's electoral commission to conduct a partial manual recount of votes from the disputed May national election began the process for Erbil Province on Thursday morning.
Observing the judges' work in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region is a United Nations (UN) delegation of electoral experts and representatives of various political parties. Workers from the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) are also on hand to facilitate the process.
Two parties, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) and Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), are boycotting the recount process, as reported on location by Kurdistan 24.
In Sulaimani Province, where the judges recounted votes earlier in the week, all Kurdish parties but one boycotted the process, claiming the selection of ballot boxes had been tampered with and demanding a full recount. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the party that did not boycott, had received the most votes in the province, according to announced results.
After the complaints in Sulaimani, the UN spoke to reporters, describing the process as "transparent."
“I am very well aware that a number of political parties have expressed concerns about the recount process and I would invite them to come down and take a look for themselves,” UN Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (DSRSG) for Iraq for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance Alice Walpole told reporters on Tuesday.
“The United Nations has made a commitment to observe this electoral recount process.”
In Erbil Province, there were 220 ballot boxes about which different parties had lodged complaints.
IHEC and the judges overseeing the process across the country previously announced that they had interpreted the Supreme Court’s approval of a manual recount as applying only to ballot centers where there had been complaints of fraud.
Many parties, notably in the disputed multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk, criticized the decision and have called instead for a full recount.
Editing by John J. Catherine