Polls close across Iraq in first vote since vic­tory over IS

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS -

Polls closed last night across Iraq in the first na­tional elec­tion since the coun­try de­clared vic­tory over the Is­lamic State group.

The vote, the fourth since the 2003 US-led top­pling of Sad­dam Hus­sein, was marked by re­ports of low turnout and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Re­sults are ex­pected by the end of to­mor­row ac­cord­ing to the in­de­pen­dent body that over­sees Iraq’s elec­tion, but ne­go­ti­a­tions to choose a prime min­is­ter tasked with form­ing a gov­ern­ment are ex­pected to drag on for months.

Vot­ing be­gan early yes­ter­day morn­ing in a con­test that had no clear front-run­ner af­ter weeks of of­fi­cial cam­paign­ing.

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider al-Abadi’s stiffest com­pe­ti­tion came from po­lit­i­cal par­ties with closer ties to Iran.

Baghdad’s streets be­gan to fill up with cars be­fore vot­ing con­cluded af­ter al-Abadi par­tially lifted a cur­few in an ef­fort to im­prove turnout.

Nearly all civil­ian ve­hi­cles had been banned from Baghdad’s streets and Iraq’s most se­nior Shi­ite cleric spoke out on the is­sue of voter par­tic­i­pa­tion, en­cour­ag­ing Iraqis to vote “to pre­vent the ar­rival of a cor­rupt par­lia­ment”.

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