Iraqi Kurds have been voting to elect a new parliament and president for their autonomous region. President Masoud Barzani is expected to be re-elected. The party of national president Jalal Talabani the PUK is running for seats on a joint basis. The campaign has highlighted voters concerns with Iraq’s central government over issues like corruption and oil. Mr Barzani looks certain to defeat his five rivals.The oil-producing region of Kirkuk, a disputed area which Kurds consider their ancestral home, is a major issue. President Barzani has vowed to annex it, threatening Iraq’s long-term stability. The Kirkuk row has held up critical energy legislation in the national parliament. Many Kurds support the hard-line approach against the Arab-led government in Baghdad. The fiery rhetoric is being seen as a vote winner for the current ruling alliance. Critics of the Kurdish Regional Government have pointed to widespread official corruption, abuses by the military and intimidation of the press, creating an atmosphere which they say stifles dissent.
Iraqi Kurds go to the polls