Iraqi Prime Minister sets election date for May 15

Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced the election date late on Tuesday, although it is not known if he will seek another term in office

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, center, attends a session of the Iraqi Parliament, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017. al-Abadi on Wednesday ordered the Kurdish region to hand over control of its airports to federal authorities or face a flight ban. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim)
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Parliamentary elections will be held in Iraq on May 15, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi announced late on Tuesday.

Mr Al Abadi, who took over the office of prime minister in 2014, has not said whether he will be seeking re-election.

“We want to see large turnout and participation in the elections. It is the right of citizens to choose their government,” Mr Al Abadi said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The date must be approved first by Iraq’s parliament if elections are to take place next year.

Mr Al Abadi’s premiership has been tested in recent weeks after a controversial independence referendum took place in the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.

However, the gamble by Kurdistan’s leader Masoud Barzani failed, triggering an Iraqi military offensive that has pushed Kurdish peshmerga forces out of disputed areas claimed by the Kurds and the government in Baghdad. Mr Barzani resigned from his position earlier this week.

Mr Al Abadi, who is commander of the armed forces, has been credited with rebuilding the Iraqi army after it suffered huge losses to ISIL under his predecessor Nuri al-Maliki’s leadership.

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