Voters cast ballots in Kurdistan parliamentary polls
Nearly three million voters are eligible to take part in Saturday’s elections, which began at 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT).
Some 1,130 candidates are vying for seats in the 111-seat parliament.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party, led by regional President Masoud Barzani, is expected to gain the largest number of seats.
The rival parties are the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, and an opposition group known as Goran.
The elections are the first since July 2009 and the fourth parliamentary polls since 1992.
Kurdistan has been an autonomous region of Iraq since 1991, when a US-Britain no-fly zone helped protect the region from the forces of Iraq’s executed dictator Saddam Hussein.
The Iraqi government and the Kurdistan region have been at odds over a number of issues, including oil production and land.
The Kurds seek to maintain autonomy and develop their own oil resources. They have signed contracts on their own terms over the past years. This is while, according to Iraq’s constitution, all oil contracts in the Kurdistan region should be ratified by the central Iraqi government.
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