Iraqi security forces vote ahead of parliamentary elections

Iraqi security forces vote ahead of parliamentary elections
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Tehran: Iraqi security personnel on Thursday cast their ballots ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections amid tight security.
Data from Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) showed that around 940,000 soldiers and police officers took part in early voting at 494 polling centres across the country.
Iraq has an estimated population of 38 million.
According to Colonel Nibras Mohammed Ali, head of Baghdad police’s media office, early voting is open to security personnel so that they can provide security on election day.
“The establishment of the special voting day is for security personnel who must provide security during Saturday’s election. If they cast their ballots on Election Day, their work will be influenced. They can’t leave their posts to vote in disregard of the voters’ safety,” he said.
First election after Daesh defeat
This will be the first general election in Iraq since the government declared victory over the Daesh in December last year.
But there are still some extremists in remote cities, and the country’s security situation remains tense.
Iraqi security forces have warned of a possible increase in the likelihood of a terrorist attack during the election, which the authorities have taken new measures to prevent.
“We have intensified the collection of information and tightened security measures to guarantee the safety of polling centres. We are capable of protecting the centres and will prevent any terrorist from jeopardising the election,” said Ali.
Around 7,000 candidates, representing 205 political entities, are vying for 329 seats in the election.
Shoe man contests election
Muntazer al Zaidi, an Iraqi journalist, who had become famous for hurling his shoe at then US president George W Bush is one of the candidates.
Zaidi has vowed to do his part to rid the country of corrupt people if he wins office.
Main contenders
The most powerful alliances expected to win the most seats are headed by the same parties that have dominated Iraqi politics since 2003.
Prime Minister Haider al Abadi is seeking to retain his post but faces stiff competition from his predecessor, Nouri al Maliki, and the Fatah alliance of candidates who have close ties to the powerful, mostly Shia paramilitary forces.
Fatah is headed by Hadi al Amiri, a former minister of transport who became a senior commander of paramilitary fighters in the fight against Daesh. Many of the candidates on his list were also paramilitary commanders before they cut their official ties with the force in order to seek office.