Iraqis abroad vote for upcoming general elections
Posted on Apr 27 2014 | IANS
Baghdad, April 27 : Iraqi nationals living abroad voted Sunday ahead of the general elections in the countrfy scheduled for April 30 amid threats from Al Qaeda linked militants to disrupt the polls.
The members of the Iraqi security forces will cast their votes Monday in order to be free to guard polling stations on the election day, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said.
The IHEC has opened polling centres and stations in 13 countries, including the US.
Muhsen al Mosawi, a member of the Board of Commissioners (BoC), confirmed that April 27-28 have been scheduled for the people living outside of Iraq to vote by registering themselves at the electoral offices.
The polling centres and the electoral offices will remain open from nine in the morning until seven in the evening.
Iraqis in New Zealand, Jordan and Iran cast their votes Sunday.
The last general elections were held March 7, 2010, which resulted in the partial victory of the Iraqi National Movement, led by former Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. It won a total of 91 seats, making it the largest alliance in the council.
The State of Law Coalition, led by present Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, was the second largest with 89 seats.
The 2010 elections were deemed controversial as these were surrounded with numerous allegations of fraud and a recount of the votes was ordered by Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) April 19, 2010.
A new parliament opened June 14, 2010, and a new government was finally formed Nov 11, 2010, with Maliki continuing as the prime minister.
The 2014 general elections are the first since the withdrawal of the US military forces from Iraq. The process began in June 2009 and was completed by December 2011.
The IHEC has approved 276 political entities to run in the elections this year.
The approved list include the prime minister's State of Law Coalition, the Sadrist Movement (Ahrar), President Jalal Talabani's Kurdistan Democratic Party, and the Iraqi National Accord.
New parties, including the former militant group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq and the White Iraqiya Bloc which split from the Iraqi National Accord, also appear in the approved list.
The number of male candidates is 6,425 while female candidates are 2,607, competing for 328 seats of the Iraqi Council of Representatives.
However, militant attacks targeting candidates, election workers and political rallies have increased as the election date has neared.
Maliki has accused Saudi Arabia and Qatar of interfering in Iraq's internal affairs.
Riyadh and Doha have been trying to create chaos by sending Takfiri militants into Iraq, Maliki added.