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Record Abstention in Iraq’s Nationwide Election

Record Abstention in Iraq’s Nationwide ElectionRecord Abstention in Iraq’s Nationwide Election

Vote counting in Iraq’s parliamentary election is under way, with low turnout and polling irregularities marking the first vote since the country declared victory over the self-styled Islamic State terror group last year.

The vote on Saturday is widely seen as a verdict on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s tenure and his pledge to be more inclusive of Iraq’s Sunni minority, Aljazeera reported.

Turnout stood at 44.52% with 92% of the votes counted, the electoral commission said late on Saturday.

Nearly 7,000 candidates from dozens of political alliances are competing for the 329 seats in parliament.

Incumbent Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, who heads the Nasr (Victory) coalition, is seen by some as a frontrunner, but he faces stiff competition from Hadi al-Amiri, a paramilitary commander heading the Fatah alliance.

Another strong contender is Nouri al-Maliki, a former prime minister who is being seen as a possible kingmaker in the vote.

The results are expected within 48 hours of the vote, according to the independent body overseeing the process.

By Saturday afternoon, less than 20% of residents in the capital, Baghdad, had turned out to vote, according to the Iraqi High Electoral Commission. Initial IHEC reports put the overall turnout at 32%, compared to about 60% in the last elections four years ago.

Furthermore, only 285,000 people out of Iraq’s displaced population of two million had registered to vote, the electoral commission said.  

The poll saw the implementation of a new electronic voting system for the first time in a bid to reduce electoral fraud.

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