Iraqis vote in early general election amid calls for boycott

Iraqis vote in early general election amid calls for boycott
2 min read
Iraq's general election on October 10 2021 is the country's first big democratic test since the US invasion in 2003.
Security was tight in the capital, with voters searched twice at the entrance to polling stations [source: Getty]

Iraqis vote on Sunday in a general election many said they would boycott, having lost faith in the democratic system brought in by the US invasion of 2003.

The election is being held several months early under a new law designed to help independent candidates - a response to mass anti-government protests two years ago.

But the established, armed and Shi'ite Islamist-dominated ruling elite is expected to sweep the vote.

infographic - Iraq elections turnout 2021

 

 

 

 

At least 167 parties and more than 3,200 candidates are competing for Iraq's 329 seats in parliament, according to the country's election commission.

"I have come to vote to change the country for the better, and to change the current leaders who are incompetent," said Jimand Khalil, 37, who was one of the first to cast her vote. "They made a lot of promises to us but didn't bring us anything."

Security was tight in the capital, with voters searched twice at the entrance to polling stations.

Airports are also closed until dawn on Monday across Iraq, where despite the government's declaration of victory over the Islamic State group in late 2017, jihadist sleeper cells continue to mount attacks.

Iraqi elections are often followed by months of protracted negotiations over a president, a prime minister and a cabinet.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) and will close at 6 p.m. (1500 GMT).

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi headed to cast his ballot as soon as the voting started, state TV reported. 

"Get out there and vote, change your reality, for Iraq and for your future," urged Kadhemi, whose political future hangs in the balance.