25 Jul 2009

Polls open in Kurdistan election

5:39 pm on 25 July 2009

Polls have opened in presidential and legislative elections in Iraq's autonomous region of Kurdistan.

Some 20,000 troops have been stationed at polling stations in the region, which are due to close at 6pm local time (1500 GMT) on Saturday.

Ballots will be flown to Baghdad for tallying. The official count is expected to take two to three days.

Incumbent President Masood Barzani and the ruling parliamentary coalition are both expected to win re-election.

There are four other candidates, but the BBC reports none is likely to come close.

It is the first time the president of Kurdistan is being elected directly by popular vote. Some 2.5 million people are registered to take part in the vote, which is the first since 2005.