Kurds cast votes in Iraq’s regional elections

July 25th, 2009 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Arbil (Iraq), July 25 (Xinhua) Iraqis went to polls Saturday in the Kurdish regional parliamentary and presidential elections that will determine the leadership of the country’s Kurdish region.
Voting started at 8.00 a.m. (0500 GMT) and will end at 6.00 p.m.

About 2.5 million eligible voters in the three northern provinces — Arbil, Sulaimaniyah and Duhuk — and some other Kurds outside the region will elect their 111-seat parliament and next president.

Around 24 political entities are running in the legislative elections, while five candidates are running for the presidency of the region.

The two main Kurdish parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party headed by regional government president Masoud Barzani, are running for the elections in a coalition, which observers believe will face challenges from new opposition alliances.

Saturday’s voting came six months after provincial elections have been held in the majority of Iraq, and at a time when the US military is decreasing its troops in a plan to pull all soldiers out of Iraq no later than 2011.

But tensions remain between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the central government over Kurds’ claims to disputed areas, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and regions in Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin provinces.

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