Iraqi Turkmen Front leader Ershad Salihi said on Sunday that their protests over fraud allegations in the latest Iraqi parliamentary elections would continue until they receive a just decision.
Demonstrations by Turkmen voters in Kirkuk began after the Iraqi election on May 12, as they claimed that the votes were manipulated to favor Kurdish political parties. The protests were occasionally interrupted as Iraqi security forces intervened and wounded some demonstrators.
Salihi, speaking to the Turkish daily, Sabah, said that Turkmens in Kirkuk launched a hunger strike over the rigging allegations. He said that although most Turkmen voters went to the ballots to elect their candidate, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) declared victory even before ballot boxes were closed, and their expectation is to count the votes manually. The Turkmen leader also warned that this sham election might harm stability and peace in Kirkuk.
Arabs in Kirkuk joined Turkmen groups' protests and announced on Saturday that they reject the Iraqi election results due to fraud allegations.
Speaking at a press meeting, the governor of Kirkuk, Rakan al-Jubouri, said that they quickly realized that there was clear fraud in the elections, and since the fraud was proven, people in Kirkuk have started election protests, which have lasted for days now.
The vote, the first in Iraq since the government declared victory against the Daesh terrorist group in December, is also the first to have taken place without significant political violence since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.