Polls closed in Iraqi Kurdistan's presidential and legislative elections after staying open an extra hour due to voter complaints. Regional president Massud Barzani is tipped to retain his post.
AFP - Polls closed on Saturday in presidential and legislative polls in Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region in voting expected to confirm the grip on power of its leaders, an AFP correspondent said.
Polling stations had stayed open for an extra hour, finally closing at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) after having opened at 8 am (0500 GMT), because some voters complained they were unable to find their names on electoral lists.
Before the close, a list comprised of four communist and Islamist parties alleged that the two dominant Kurdish parties in northern Iraq had committed electoral violations.
They said regional president Massud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan had bussed unregistered voters to polling stations to cast ballots.
Nusherwan Mustafa, leader of a smaller opposition party that appeared to have captured an enthusiastic cross-section of voters disenchanted with the two main parties, also complained over the voting extension.
More than 2.5 million Kurds were eligible to vote. Final results are not expected for several days, as ballots must be collected in the regional capital Arbil before being transported to Baghdad for the count.
Five candidates were registered for the presidential race, including incumbent and hot favourite Barzani, while 24 political lists contested the 111 seats in the assembly which first convened in 1992.
Legislative seats in Iraqi Kurdistan are distributed through a form of proportional representation.
Date created : 2009-07-25