Iraqis vote in first election since ISIL defeat
BAGHDAD – Anadolu Agency
Iraqis began voting in the country’s first parliamentary election on May 11 since Iraq declared victory against ISIL.
Polling stations across the country, including the capital Baghdad and northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, opened at 07:00 a.m. local time and will close at 7:00 p.m.
Voters were seen gathering at polling stations since early morning to cast their ballot.
As he cast ballot in the capital Baghdad, Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri called on Iraqi voters to turn out en masse to vote in the polls.
“A poor turnout will help certain parties disliked by voters to reach the decision-making positions,” al-Jabouri told reporters.
In northern Iraq’s Kurdish region, the prime minister of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), Nechirvan Barzani, said Iraq’s political process will not succeed without the participation of Kurds in the upcoming government.
“No party will be able to form a government without alliances,” Barzani said as he cast his ballot in Erbil in northern Iraq.
“I don’t think the political process in Iraq will succeed without the Kurdish participation in the upcoming government.”
Meanwhile, four people were reportedly injured in an attack on a polling station in Diyala province in eastern Iraq.
Local police officer Habib al-Shimari said mortar shells hit near the polling station in Abi Saida district in the province, injuring four voters.
Gunmen also attempted to attack voters in the district, triggering clashes with security forces, he said. No injuries were reported.
Security forces also shot dead two bombers before they detonated their explosive belts near polling stations in Diyala and the northern province of Kirkuk.
Saturday’s election sees more than 7,000 candidates compete for seats in Iraq’s 328-member national assembly.
Roughly 24 million Iraqis out of the country’s 37-million-strong population are registered to take part in the polls.
The poll is the country’s first election since Daesh was decisively defeated late last year after overrunning much of northern and western Iraq in mid-2014 and is being held under the shadow of economic crisis, return of thousands of refugees, political polarization and security unrest.