Baghdad ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Iraq's first
parliamentary elections since the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2011 began this
morning at 7am (local time). Approximately 22 million people have registered to
vote in the 50 thousand polling stations scattered throughout the country. The
situation is tense given the continuous attacks by Islamist militants, the
latest of which took place yesterday, in their attempt to discourage
The government has tightened security measures, temporarily closing all the airports and the main streets of Baghdad, hoping to reassure voters. The nation is experiencing the worst unrest since 2008: last week alone about 160 people died in various attacks.
More than 9 thousand candidates are vying for 328 parliamentary seats. The coalition of Shiite Nouri al -Maliki, the current prime minister, is favorite to win and the premier is hoping for a third term. No voting will take place in Anbar province, which is dominated by Sunnis, where security forces are fighting with Islamist militants and tribal groups control the capital Ramadi and nearby city of Fallujah.