ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi forces on Saturday entered polling stations in the Yezidi (Ezidi) town of Sinjar (Shingal), causing disturbances and slowing down the voting process.
“Iraqi forces created difficulties for voters and sparked concerns among the Shingali electorate after they stepped into voting stations,” a Kurdistan 24 correspondent in the disputed area said on Saturday.
The Kurdistan 24 reporter’s film crew was prevented from visiting polling stations and covering the voting process for the Iraqi parliamentary elections in Shingal.
Kurdish forces, with the support of US-led coalition airstrikes, liberated Shingal from the Islamic State (IS) in November 2015.
However, following the now-infamous Oct. 16, 2017 attack and takeover of disputed areas by Iraqi forces and Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) militias, the Peshmerga were forced to withdraw, including from Kirkuk and Shingal.
“In Shingal’s Talbanat district, the Hashd al-Shaabi has set up a special voting station where only they can vote and no one else,” the reporter added.
The same Kurdistan 24 team was blocked from covering early voting which took place two days earlier.
“Once again, Hashd al-Shaabi fighters barred us from reporting on the election in Shingal. We have contacted the Electoral Commission’s representative in the town, but they have yet to provide any explanation regarding the fighter’s violations,” he explained.
In other parts of Iraq, reports of technical difficulties with the new biometric system are coming, slowing down the voting process which may push the Electoral Commission to extend voting hours.
Editing by Nadia Riva