ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) list in Kirkuk Province Rebwar Taha on Tuesday called on Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send troops to the city amid protests by allegers of election fraud.
“We need Iraqi security to be sent to Kirkuk immediately to protect the lives of Electoral Commission staff members who are currently surrounded by protesters,” Taha said in the announcement.
He also said the blame for any “ill treatments” toward the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) staff by demonstrators would be put on the security forces.
The protests in Kirkuk were sparked by Turkmen after the end of the Iraqi parliamentary elections on May 12 and have been ongoing since.
Kirkuk’s governor Rakan al-Jubouri called for a manual recount of votes, a call supported by Turkmen in the province as well.
The protesters gathered around the Office of the Electoral Commission in the center of Kirkuk even before the formal announcement of the results. Security forces broke up overnight demonstrations on Sunday, with reports of injuries.
The unofficial results of the polls showed the PUK leading with a significant gap over rivals from the Arab and Turkmen lists, who came in second and third, respectively.
The lists accused the PUK of manipulating the electronic voting system, alleging that the PUK had accrued significant votes in towns not inhabited by Kurds.
The PUK denies allegations of fraudulent activity leveled at them and have asked asserters of fraud to express their complaints through legal means.
The oil-rich province of Kirkuk is one of the more ethnically diverse parts of Iraq, made up of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, and Christians and is one of the most disputed territories between the governments of Baghdad and Erbil.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany