Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, has given the order to Kirkuk’s regional security forces to remain impartial while handling election files and providing protection during the democratic process. Abadi, who is in command of Iraq’s armed forces, informed the public of his stance on the situation this week through twitter. He also tweeted,

I call on the election commission to take measures to inspect the ballot boxes and announce the results to the public in order to guarantee a healthy election.”

Speculation of fraudulent voting occurring in Kirkuk began circulating almost immediately after the polls closed, it was the lowest national turn out to date with a mere 44.52% of Iraqi citizens actually voting. This is a prime example of the level of faith Iraqi citizens have in a fair democratic process.

The governor of Kirkuk has demanded a complete manual recount of the votes and claimed that the fraudulent votes were a disgrace to Iraq. The Turkmen Front also expressed their worries about the situation, they alleged that fraudulent voting had indeed occurred and concurred with the governor’s demands.

Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces surrounded Kirkuk’s election body office on Saturday night as votes were tallied along with supporters of the Faith Coalition, a predominantly Shiite organization. The Prime Minister’s use of the Hashd al-Shaabi, a Shiite militia supported by Iran, has been called into question many times over the past few years; particularly when he ordered them to take control of the city in October last year. Kirkuk remains heavily disputed territorially as both Sunni Kurds and Iraqi Shiite Arabs seek control. Kirkuk is rich in oil and is a potential economy booster for whoever controls the region.

The Kurdish political coalition, Nishtiman, also demanded a recount,

We call for the repeating of the parliamentary election of Iraq in Kurdistan Region, including Kirkuk and Kurdistani territories outside the Region. Victory for the determination of our righteous people.”

Featured image courtesy of Diyar Mohammed [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons