Security personnel cast their ballots nationwide Monday ahead of Iraq’s first election since US troops withdrew, amid attacks on voting centers and fears the country is slipping into all-out conflict.
Security personnel cast their ballots nationwide Monday ahead of Iraq's first election since US troops withdrew, amid attacks on voting centers and fears the country is slipping into all-out conflict.
Soldiers and policemen queued up at schools across Baghdad and around the country as polling stations opened at 7:00 am (0400 GMT), leaving with the traditional purple ink-stained finger indicating they had cast their vote.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is bidding for a third term in the April 30 polls.
The month-long campaign has seen Baghdad and other cities plastered with posters and decked out in bunting, as candidates have taken to the streets, staged loud rallies and challenged each other in angry debates.
I have come to vote "for the sake of Iraq, and to change the faces who have not served Iraq," said Ahmed, a policeman wearing civilian clothes who was queuing at a polling station in central Baghdad and declined to give his full name.
"We want to choose better people."
Along with more than 800,000 members of the security forces who are eligible to vote at upwards of 500 polling centers nationwide, hospital and prison staff, patients and inmates will also vote on Monday.
The election commission meanwhile said that more than 60,000 ballots had so far been cast in out-of-country voting which continues through Monday.
Attacks on candidates, election workers and political rallies have cast a shadow over the election.