Iraq election: security forces and displaced Iraqis cast first ballots

More than one million people living far from their home regions were eligible to vote early for Sunday's parliamentary election

Security forces, displaced people and prisoners voted on Friday in Iraq's parliamentary election, two days before the rest of the country.

In Baghdad, security was tight as dozens of army cadets wearing face masks and gloves lined up at a polling station set up in a school, after voting began at 7am.

More than one million members of the security forces were able to vote on Friday in the places where they are stationed because voting in their home regions, as other citizens will do, could prove challenging for those posted in distant locations.

But the 160,000 members of the Hashed Al Shaabi, the grouping of state-sanctioned paramilitary groups, will have to vote on Sunday after the electoral commission said it had not been given lists of fighters eligible to vote early.

Also casting early ballots were about 120,000 displaced Iraqis, some of them living in 27 camps, and more than 600 prison inmates.

Iraq's election is being held early in concession to a demand by the youth-led protest movement that broke out in 2019 against a political class widely blamed for graft, unemployment and crumbling public services.

The movement was violently suppressed, and most of those who took part have decided to boycott the election, which they say is being held in an undemocratic climate.

In recent months, dozens of the movement's activists have fallen victim to a wave of assassinations and kidnappings that have been blamed on pro-Iranian groups.

Analysts say the same parties will continue to hold the balance of power after the vote.

More than 3,240 candidates are contesting for the 329 seats in parliament.

Updated: October 8th 2021, 9:54 AM
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