Sulaimaniyah: Electoral authorities on Friday imposed a curfew on campaigning in a northern Iraqi province that has become a fierce battleground for Kurdish votes ahead of the country`s general election.
Sulaimaniyah, 270 kilometres north of Baghdad, is the focus of considerable tension between rival Kurdish parties, vying for maximum leverage in the event of Kurds being possible kingmakers in Iraq`s next government.
Campaigning will be banned throughout the province from 0900 pm to 0600 am, election organisers said, a decision that came in the wake of several violent incidents, including a shooting that left three political activists wounded.
The curfew will "protect the process of campaigning for the political entities and candidates, prevent traffic accidents, and protect citizens in the province," said a local Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) statement.
"Anyone who infringes the curfew will be punished," it added, without giving further details. The restrictions will last until the end of campaigning on March 5, two days before the election.
Security forces loyal to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani`s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were accused yesterday of having shot and wounded three people from the rival Goran ("Change" in Kurdish) bloc in a clash at a political meeting in Sulaimaniyah, a stronghold of Talabani supporters, on Tuesday night.