Counting was underway Sunday in presidential and legislative elections in Iraqi Kurdistan, as the region faced disputes with the central government over land and oil. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki called the votes as "another step in building a democratic Iraq" and added that the elections "provide an opportunity to resolve all problems."
Some 80 percent of the region's voters turned out as official counting was expected to be conducted in Baghdad with full results later thsi week. "The elections were a great success and were conducted transparently without any major problems," the Kurdish electoral commission head Faraj al-Haidari told reporters late Saturday evening, according to AFP.
Kurdistan's leading players -- regional president Massud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani -- are due to retain power.
Ahead of the close of voting, a list comprised of four communist and Islamist parties complained of "fraud" and blamed the PUK and KDP of bringing unregistered voters to polling stations to cast ballots. Those complaints were rejected by Hamdia al-Husseini, head of the electoral department at Iraq's electoral commission, who said: "The election was transparent." According to her, overall turnout was 78.5 percent.