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Incumbents Appear in Lead, as Iraqi Kurds Await Results of Vote

Iraqi Kurds are awaiting the official results from regional elections held Saturday in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The official vote count is under way in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, and preliminary results could be released in a matter of hours.

A senior official in the office of Kurdistan's incumbent president, Massoud Barzani, said Monday the regional leader won re-election with 70 percent of the vote. That statement was based on unofficial results.

Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, the president's nephew, said one person was killed and 12 others were wounded when election revelers began firing celebratory shots into the air.

Media reports from the region say initial, unofficial results indicate the ruling parties - Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) - jointly garnered at least half of the regional parliament's 111 seats.

A political opposition party, known as Goran (or "Change"), says it expects to win about a quarter of seats in the parliament.

Kurdish opposition political groups have complained of voting irregularities.

They say authorities blocked some opposition members from the polls and permitted non-registered voters to cast ballots.

Kurdistan's interior minister, Karim Sinjari, has said the vote was calm, fair and overseen by hundreds of election observers.

Northern Iraq's Kurdistan region has been locked in a bitter feud with Baghdad over land and oil, particularly the disputed oil-rich region of Kirkuk.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.