Iraq PM orders calm in Kirkuk amid election protests
Iraq has instructed security forces in the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk to maintain order amid protests against alleged electoral fraud during the first vote since the defeat of Islamic State militants.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi made the order on Sunday, after the city's Kurdish and Turkmen communities rejected the initial results of the parliamentary election.
"Abadi has commanded security forces in Kirkuk and throughout the province to provide security and to deal impartially with the election," Abadi's office said in an online statement.
"The election commission must take measures to inspect the ballot boxes and announce the results to the public to guarantee a fair election," it added.
The move came after the governor of the oil-rich province ordered a recount of the votes and a curfew on Saturday night to prevent sectarian tensions from arising.
Kurdish and Turkmen parties have accused election officials of rigging the vote and hacking the electronic voting system.
Protests erupted outside of the election office in Kirkuk on Sunday, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.
Iraqi federal troops pushed Kurdish forces out of Kirkuk and its oilfields in October, part of Baghdad's response to an "illegal" independence referendum that also saw the central government impose economic sanctions.
The vote on Saturday saw a record low turnout, with 44 percent of eligible voters casting ballots.
No election since 2003 has had a turnout below 60 percent. More than 10 million Iraqis voted.