People show their ink-stained fingers after casting their votes at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Kirkuk, Iraq May 12, 2018. (REUTERS/Ako Rasheed)
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The streets of Kirkuk, which has violently changed hands several times since Iraq's last election, are crammed with a dizzying patchwork of banners for nearly 300 candidates vying for votes in the multi-ethnic and religious city.The sheer number of parties and lists make the exact outcome unpredictable in a Saturday vote for the 13 parliamentary seats belonging to Kirkuk, a microcosm of Iraq's minorities.But one thing is certain -- the city's Turkmen, Kurds, Assyrian Christians, Sunni Arabs and others will vote along ethnic or religious lines.The three main ethnic and religious groups, the majority Shi'ite Arabs and the minority Sunni Arabs and Kurds, have been at loggerheads for decades.The Kurdish autonomous region's ruling party, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is boycotting the Kirkuk vote after being booted out in October, leaving rivals including the Iran-allied Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) to fight over its two seats.
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