Iraqis voted Sunday in a parliamentary election a year early as a concession to an anti-government protest movement but seen as unlikely to deliver major change to the war-scarred country. Many of the 25 million eligible voters were expected to have boycotted the polls amid deep distrust in a political class widely blamed for graft, unemployment and crumbling public services in oil-rich Iraq.
Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhemi’s future hangs in the balance, with few observers willing to predict who will come out on top after the usual political haggling between factions that follow Iraqi elections.
“Get out there and vote, change your reality, for Iraq and for your future,” Kadhemi said, casting his ballot. He later tweeted that he had “kept his promise and done his duty by organising fair elections
Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi raises his ink-stained finger after casting his vote at a polling station in the capital Baghdad
Polls closed at 1500 GMT, with electoral commission chief Jalil Adnan saying preliminary results would be known within 24 hours and voter turnout announced late Sunday. The election was held under tight security in a country where key parliamentary blocs have armed factions and Islamic State group jihadists have launched deadly suicide attacks this year. An attack blamed on IS on a voting centre in a remote part of northern Iraq left a police officer dead, a security source said.
Airports were closed and travel between provinces banned, while voters were searched twice at polling stations.
A soldier was killed and another wounded by “accidental fire” from a fellow soldier at a polling station in Diyala province bordering Baghdad, officials said. Authorities also reported the arrest of 77 suspects for electoral “violations”.
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