Baghdad (Iraqinews.com) – The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said on Sunday that 44.5 percent of Iraqis cast their ballots in the first legislative elections in the country since the defeat of Islamic State last year.
“Of all 24.5 million eligible voters, just 10,8 million voted in the parliamentary polls with a percentage of 44.2,” Knooz Media quoted Riyadh al-Badran, the commission’s spokesperson, as saying.
Commenting on recent reports of fierce clashes between rival parties in oil-rich Kirkuk, Badran stressed that the electoral process was running smoothly there, noting that “all political parties have the right to challenge the results of elections.”
In October, Iraqi forces backed by Shi’ite militias dislodged Kurdish Peshmerga fighters who had taken control of Kirkuk city in 2014, preventing its capture by Islamic State militants who had overrun Iraqi army positions in northern and western Iraq.
The return of the Iraqi army to Kirkuk was greeted with relief by the Arab and Turkmen populations there.
Saturday’s elections are the first in Iraq since the defeat of Islamic State last year by Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition.
The elections will decide the 329 members of the Council of Representatives who will in turn elect the Iraqi president and prime minister.