Kirkuk still in atmosphere of elections

Kirkuk, November 2021: Flags and posters of some candidates and parties in one of the main streets of Kirkuk. KirkukNow

By KirkukNow in Kirkuk

Party flags and posters of candidates are still a dominant sight in many streets of Kirkuk, though General Elections were held on October 10th.

The campaigns for the early parliamentary elections began three months before the electoral process. Since then, the streets and public places have been covered with posters and slogans, yet part of it has not been removed up today.

“When I want to go for a walk with my friends in the city bazaar, our eyes fall on those painful scenes. A large part of the flags, pictures and slogans that were hung during the electoral campaign are still in their places,” said Ali Muhammad, a resident of the Iskan neighborhood of Kirkuk.

Muhammad sarcastically says that the contents of most of the candidates' slogans and posters called for serving Kirkuk, but "Do they serve the city by distorting public places?"

According to the follow-up by KirkukNow reporter, in addition to the posters for this year's elections, some walls and main streets still hold old slogans dating back to the parliamentary elections took place in 2014 and 2018.

Located 238 kilometers north of Baghdad, the oil-rich province of Kirkuk is an ethnically mixed province for 1.6 million Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen, Muslims, Christians and Kaka'is. It has long been at the center of disputes between Baghdad and the Erbil.

The Kurds managed to get six seats compared to four for the Arabs and only two for the Turkmens, the Independent High Electoral Commission IHEC said on October 16th.

IHEC said that Kurds have earned 172,795 votes in Kirkuk while the Arabs have made 172,769. The Turkmens have gathered 65,089 votes, according to calculations by KirkuKnow taking the ethnicity of the candidates into consideration not the list they represented.

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Kirkuk, November 2021: Flags and posters of some candidates and parties that have not yet been removed. Kirkuk Now

Some of the posters were removed by the wind, and some are still hanging on the walls yet burnt by sunlight. You also find parts of iron columns and bars used to erect posters on the sidewalks, which have become a danger to the safety of pedestrians.

An official source in municipality of Kirkuk told KirkukNow, "Some parties and candidates who did not get enough votes to qualify them to win parliamentary seats are not ready to remove their propaganda posters, so we are waiting for the Electoral Commission to set a deadline for them."

Kirkuk office of IHEC had been informed through an official letter to ask the candidates and parties that participated in the elections to remove posters, flags and slogans, the source added.

According to the Parliament Elections Law and the IHEC instructions for advertising campaigns, the municipality itself determines the places designated for hanging posters, and candidates and parties must remove them within 30 days after the end of the electoral process.

Ali Abbas, spokesman for the Kirkuk office of the IHEC said if the independent parties, entities and candidates do not remove the posters and pictures for the elections, the cost of removing the posters will be deducted from the deposit amount by the parties and candidates with the commission.

If the amount deposited with the commission is not sufficient, they will be obliged to pay additional amounts, "and if they refuse to pay the additional amount, legal measures will be taken against the violators," Abbas added.

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