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Violence taints election in Iraq's Kurdistan region

Several cities in Iraq's Kurdistan region witnessed violence following recent parliamentary elections on May 12, leading to calls from Kurdish opposition parties for the results to be canceled.
Kurdish supporters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) celebrate after the closing of ballot boxes during the parliamentary election in Kirkuk, Iraq, May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Ako Rasheed - RC1D42ED63F0

SULAIMANIYAH, Iraqi Kurdistan — Narges was exhausted but was looking forward to finishing her last hour of work at the Dark Blue Cafe next to Zargata Hill (The Hill) on May 12. Dozens of young men and women were sitting in the cafe smoking shisha and chatting about the preliminary election results that were just coming out. A group of diners was celebrating a friend’s birthday. The vibe inside the cafe was jubilant; outside, however, constant celebratory gunfire echoing around the city was causing consternation among the public.

Over 10 million Iraqis voted in the first national election following the defeat of the Islamic State. As the preliminary results came out, the opposition parties in the Kurdistan region soon realized that they had lost the election and that the two ruling parties in Kurdistan had surprisingly gained more seats. Many had expected that these two parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), would be punished hard by the electorate for bringing misery to the Kurdistan region after going ahead with the ill-fated referendum for independence as well as for the mismanagement of the economy and rampant corruption.

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