Referendum commission moves two polling stations due to security concerns 

September 22, 2017 at 4:45 pm

IDPs return to Sadiya (photograph: Hawre Azad, 5 August 2017)

Hawre Azad

The Diyla Office of Independent High Electoral and Referendum Commission decided not to open polling stations at Sadiya and Mandali as the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) are responsible for the security of both twons and instead the residents of these two towns are expected to vote in Khanaqin.

“We have made all preparations for the referendum,” said Masoud Darkhan the head of the Commissions’s Diyala office. “We have decided that the residents of Sadiya and Mandali vote in Khanaqin and for that purpose we have set up two polling station there.”

The two towns are part of areas in the Diyala province which are known as “disputed territories” the control of which are contested between Baghdad and Erbil.

After the members of Mandali town council voted to hold referendum in their town earlier this month, a group of Shia militia from Asayib ahl-Alhaq forced the council to change its position.

Darakhan said that people from Mandali and Sadiya travel from their towns to Khanaqin to cast their vote without elaborating about security measures for the residents  as they would have to pass through Shia militia checkpoints.

Dawood Karim a Kurd from Sadiya who is in Khanaqin now says “In tea houses and the bazaar, we hear indirect threats because they say whoever goes to Khanaqin on the day of the election , we wont all them to come back again to Sadiya.”

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