Iraqi Kurd election vote counting gets underway
A Kurd young boy cross a street under blue flags, emblazoned with a candle, of the Movement for Change (MC) (aka Goran) displayed in the streets as part of the campaign for Kurdistan's parliamentary elections on September 18, 2013 in Iraq's northern city of Sulaimaniyah. (AFP)
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Iraqi Kurdistan's first election in four years got underway on Sunday as opposition groups hope to end the decades-old dominance of former rebel parties in the government
The vote itself on Saturday went largely without incident on Saturday, with Agence France Presse estimated to be 73.9 percent.
Several violent incidents targeting the major opposition grouping in the run up to the elections threatened the stability of the vote, and AFP reported that one man was killed in a shooting after polls closed late Saturday.
The United Nations praised the "smooth conduct" of the vote, with preliminary results due in the coming days, according to AFP.
The election for the Kurdistan region's parliament, which is autonomous from Baghdad, comes after regional turmoil across the Middle East raised new questions about the political future of the Kurdish people, who are spread across a number of neighbouring states.
Supporters of Iraqi Kurdistan's biggest bloc, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of regional president Massud Barzani, took to the streets of regional capital Arbil after polls closed, honking car horns, waving KDP flags and firing off celebratory gunshots, AFP reported.
Similar events were reported elsewhere in the three-province autonomous region, with supporters of various parties celebrating their anticipated victory in the polls.
Some 2.8 million Kurds were eligible to vote in Saturday's elections, AFP reported.
The campaign centered on a tougher stance on corruption and for better delivery of basic services, as well as how to best spend the energy-rich region's oil reserves revenues, according to AFP.
The elections, the first since July 2009, saw three main parties jostling for position in the 111-seat Kurdish parliament, with implications beyond Iraq.
The KDP is widely expected to win the largest number of seats, although it is unlikely to obtain a majority on its own, AFP reported.
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