Yesterday members of the police, Peshmerga, and various security forces took to the streets of Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan in protest. Their votes were annulled for the recent Iraqi parliamentary election. Minister of Parliament and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Arez Abdulla attended the protest saying the “collective punishment” was an unjust action on the government’s part. He said that the members of parliament who sponsored the bill to annul the votes are “short-sighted” and will not succeed in their corrupt goals. One Peshmerga attending the protest told reporters that,

As Peshmerga forces, we are expressing our anger at those sides wanting to shatter the prestige of the Peshmerga and wanting to annul the special votes in order to compensate for the loss they suffered in the election.”

The bill passed by Iraqi parliament demands a manual recount of all votes from polling booths across the country. The votes made by security forces in Kurdistan were thrown out as well. The Coalition for Democracy and Justice (CDJ), Kurdistan Communist Party, the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), the Change Movement (Gorran), the Kurdistan Islamic League (Komal), and the Kurdistan Islamic Movement (IMK) political groups praised the decision. In a collective statement they said,

We declare our support for the important and historic step taken by the Iraqi parliament to respond to voters and political parties over electronic fraud and hooliganism targeting peoples’ votes, and tampering with the result of the election held on May 12 in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.”

An investigation by the High Judicial Council into ballot burning has also been launched per the request of the Council of Ministers. Current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the burning of votes has made “people to lose trust in all elections” and said that an electoral re-run would be “a legislative matter.”

One Peshmerga attending the protest claimed the parties involved with the bill were “not fighting for, but confiscating the very basic rights of Peshmerga, which is voting,” and added, “Is it their staunchness and loyalty to the Peshmerga?” Many other attendees espoused “we will not allow the conspiracy to work.” There were banners stating slogans like “the vote of Peshmerga is the weight of the Peshmerga” or “the fruit of the June 6 treason was against Peshmerga and Kirkuk.” Another Peshmerga stated that, “The cancellation of the special votes is equal to the breaking of the reputation of Peshmerga and that move is a red line for us.”

Featured image: Peshmerga soldiers with 2nd Battalion, 1st Regional Guard Brigade, stand in formation during the Modern Brigade Course 2 graduation ceremony at the Menila Training Center, Iraq, July 28, 2016. Representatives from the U.S. Army, which provided equipment, and the Coalition trainers who taught the course attended the graduation to show their support for the battalion. The building partner capacity mission aims to increase the security capacity of local forces fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.  | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Kalie Jones/Released