Though the final count is still some distance off, the preliminary results suggest that former Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqiya party is poised to win the Kirkuk Governorate. The count is a testament to how well secularist Iraqiya is performing among the nation’s Sunni Arab minority.
But Kirkuk is a lot more than a Sunni heavy region, it is also one of the key battlegrounds between Iraq’s Arab and Kurdish populations. The annexation of the oil-rich city is one of the top issues on the Kurdish ruling bloc’s agenda, and the election there is seen as another fight in that ongoing battle.
And its a battle that is turning ugly, as a key local Kurdish politician, Khalid Shenawi, claims his bloc has evidence that poll workers in the Arab-heavy portions of Kirkuk committed fraud on behalf of Allawi’s bloc.
The allegation is just the latest in a growing list of claims of voter fraud, including several such allegations made by Allawi’s bloc against the ruling State of Law party. Officials have promised investigations, but deny that the allegations amount to anything that could alter the election’s outcome.
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