Baghdad: Millions of Iraqis headed to cast their ballots Sunday to elect a new Parliament amid hopes that it could solve the country’s long-standing crisis.
Voters lined up to cast their ballots at 8,273 polling centres across Iraq, which opened their doors at 7 a.m., reports Xinhua news agency.
Voting will end at 6 p.m. and according to the country’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), the results are expected to be announced in the next 24 hours.
Noting that the elections are the first carried out without imposing a curfew, as the security situation in the country has improved, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi praised the elections as an important achievement, and called on Iraqis to participate in the polls to further change the country’s situation themselves.
“I prefer to be the first voter to cast my ballot, and all of us have to work to bring about the change, and this is an opportunity to achieve that,” he told reporters in the first minutes of the voting at a polling centre in a Baghdad school.
President Barham Salih cast his vote at a polling centre inside the Royal Tulip Al Rasheed Baghdad Hotel in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.
“This is a memorable day because early elections are a popular demand and an opportunity for Iraq to move towards reform,” Salih told reporters.
The Iraqi parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for 2022, were advanced in response to months of protests against corruption and a lack of public services.
According to the electoral commission, about 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots for 3,249 candidates, running individually and within 167 parties and coalitions, vying for 329 seats in the legislature.
Meanwhile, a 69 per cent turnout was recorded in the early voting for Iraqi security forces, prisoners, and displaced people on Friday.
According to the IHEC, 821,800 voters cast their ballots out of 1,196,524, which is 69 per cent during the early voting.