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Kurds in Northern Syria Vote in Municipal Elections   


Fawza Youssef, a senior Kurdish politician, shows her ink-stained finger after casting her ballot in Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 1, 2017.

Residents of Kurdish areas in northern Syria have voted in local elections, selecting representatives they hope will help boost their political power in a quest for regional autonomy.

About 5,700 candidates vied for seats in municipal councils, in the second of a three-stage plan to establish a Kurdish federal system of government in northern Syria.

People register their names before voting at a polling station in Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 1, 2017.
People register their names before voting at a polling station in Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 1, 2017.

The first election, held in September, selected members of community-level governing bodies. The third, set for January, will be for representatives to an assembly that will act as a parliament for a federal system of government in northern Syria.

No voter turnout numbers have been released, so at present it is unclear how many potential voters may have stayed home. It is also unclear whether the vote has been successful in its stated bid to include the Arab minority in the region.

Voters queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 1, 2017.
Voters queue to cast their ballots at a polling station in Qamishli, Syria, Dec. 1, 2017.

U.S. and Russian observers monitored the vote, in an effort to ensure the proceedings were free, fair and transparent.

Syrian Kurdish groups insist they want autonomy as part of a decentralized Syria, and not the independent status sought by their Kurdish peers in northern Iraq in a September referendum.

But the vote is seen as a threat by the Syrian government and by Turkey, which argues that the Syrian Kurds are closely linked to the Kurdish PKK group in Turkey, which Ankara has deemed illegal.

VOA's Zana Omer contributed to this report.

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