ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A statement making the rounds on Kurdish social media suggest 14 candidates of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party doubt the credibility of the current election results, asking for the ‘real’ results to be revealed.
“After the publication of the election's unofficial results, we, as candidates for list 162 of the PUK, all agree the results were not accurate. The data that we have obtained from polling stations are different from that of the commission [Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC)],” the letter read. At least 14 candidates signed the letter.
Kurdistan 24 could not reach the candidates to confirm the letter's origin and authenticity.
The candidates request the party “produce the real results of the election,” demanding they “open ballot boxes in various towns to compare the number of votes with the unofficial results.”
The request by PUK candidates echoes that of most Kurdish parties in the Kurdistan Region, including the leading Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which rejected the preliminary results of the election in Sulaimani, Kirkuk, and Halabja, calling for a manual recount of the ballots.
Claims of fraud and election tampering were directed at the PUK. The party denied the allegations.
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.
Unlike previous elections, a biometric and electronic voting system was introduced to verify voter cards, fingerprints, and count ballots—a system meant to streamline the electoral process and prevent voter fraud.
However, hours after polling stations 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.
“I am a Gorran member of the Kurdistan Parliament. I voted with my family at our local polling station. The electronic vote-counting device later showed that my party had not even received a single vote in that station,” Bestun Fayeq, a Gorran member of the Kurdistan Parliament asserted while speaking to Kurdistan 24 on Sunday. He claimed the voting devices had been pre-programmed to favor one party over the others.
Other parties across Iraq have made similar claims, calling on the IHEC to investigate voter fraud and recount votes manually. The IHEC so far has deemed it unnecessary.
Editing by Nadia Riva