Iraq holds first provincial elections in a decade

Baghdad, (UNI) Iraq on Monday holds provincial elections in 15 of the country’s 18 provinces after a 10-year hiatus over political differences.

Voting began after 7:00 a.m. local time (0400 GMT) when 7,166 polling centers opened under tight security measures as millions of Iraqis are expected to vote in Baghdad and other cities in all provinces excluding the three provinces of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region.

The polling centers are scheduled to close at 6:00 p.m. (1500 GMT).

According to figures from Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission, about 16 million people are eligible to vote in the provincial elections, including the security personnel and internally displaced persons who had cast their votes in early voting two days ago.

On Saturday, the electoral commission said in a press conference that the turnout of early voting reached 67 percent.

It said that “706,805 out of 1,050,653 eligible voters cast their votes” in the early voting for security forces and internally displaced persons.

Voters are expected to choose new members for the provincial councils from 5,901 candidates who are vying for 285 seats.

The last provincial elections in Iraq were held in April 2013.

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