ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The UN's envoy in Iraq called on the nation's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ‘immediately and fully’ investigate all public grievances made regarding the recent national election.
“The Commission has to act expeditiously in order to seriously address all complaints including, as necessary, the conduct of partial manual recount in selected locations, notably in Kirkuk,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq Ján Kubiš said in a statement released on Thursday.
“It is important that these are undertaken in full transparency, witnessed by stakeholders, to strengthen the confidence in the process. The UN is ready to provide assistance, if requested.”
On Saturday, people across Iraq and the Kurdistan Region took part in national legislative elections, the first since the defeat of the Islamic State (IS). Turnout stood at 44.5 percent, according to IHEC. It is the lowest voter turnout rate in Iraq in the past 13 years. In the 2014 elections, roughly 60 percent headed to the polls.
“I also call on all political actors to uphold the peace and to remain committed to resolving any electoral disputes through the established legal channels,” Kubiš added.
Unlike previous elections, a biometric and electronic voting system was used for verifying voter cards, fingerprints, and counting ballots—a system meant to streamline the electoral process and prevent voter fraud.
However, hours after polling stations were closed, complaints arose, notably in the PUK stronghold of Sulaimani. Most parties contesting the results pointed the finger at the PUK, accusing them of tampering with the ballots and election results soon after they declared victory in that province.
Other parties across Iraq have made similar claims, calling on IHEC to investigate voter fraud and recount votes manually.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region and deputy head of the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) Nechirvan Barzan also called on IHEC to seriously consider complaints issued by various political parties concerning the electoral process.
Editing by John J. Catherine