Major Kurdish parties lead in 2 provinces in Iraq's preliminary election results

Major Kurdish parties lead in 2 provinces in Iraq's preliminary election results

Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission should have announced the results 48 hours after the polls were closed but it was delayed for unclear reasons. While he didn't identify who they were, he said that the gunmen were calling on the commission to change the results of the election.

The head of Iraq's national election commission said at a news conference that armed men had taken over the election office and that the workers inside were "in effect, hostages", but local officials and witnesses disputed that account, saying there was no sign of weapons at what appeared to be a peaceful demonstration.

He called on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to protect the election team.

In the run-up to the election last week, Turkmen and Arab residents of Kirkuk province had cried foul amid reports of malfunctioning electronic voting machines, which were used for the first time in Iraqi elections.

"The situation inside Kirkuk province is stable and is not a cause for concern", Major General Maan al-Saadi said in a statement from Iraq's national security media centre.

Badran still said he expects to have final figures on the province within two days, despite the gunmen.

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On Saturday, Iraqis voted in the country's first parliamentary election since 2014.

The election commission said on Tuesday that the results indicated a win for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), an Iraqi Kurdish party.

More than 7,000 candidates were running for 329 parliamentary seats in 18 governorates.

Iran-backed Shia militia chief Hadi al-Amiri's Fatah (Conquest) coalition was in second place, while Abadi's Nasr (Victory) coalition is in third.

Turnout fell far short of previous elections with only 44.5 percent of registered voters participating. The record low turnout was partly blamed on a curfew and restrictions on movement of vehicle.

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