- Title: IRAQ: Iraqi candidates prepare ahead of country's provincial elections
- Date: 26th January 2009
- Summary: BAGHDAD, IRAQ (JANUARY 25, 2009) (REUTERS) TRAFFIC AT AL-FIRDOUS SQUARE OF POSTERS OF CAMPAIGNING PARTY MEMBERS PASTED ON BUILDING/ BANNER READING "IRAQI INDEPENDENTS UNION, LIST 129. ELECTION IS A CIVILISED TREAT, THEREFORE ELECT THE ONE THAT YOU KNOW" POSTER OF IRAQI INDEPENDENT LIST 129 PLASTERED ON BUILDING IN CENTRAL BAGHDAD, READING " VOTE FOR THE FAITHFUL" BANNER OF IRAQI INDEPENDENTS LIST 129 "ELECTION IS A CIVILISED TREAT, ELECT THAT WHO YOU KNOW" STREET YOUNG MEN PASTING POSTERS OF FORMER IRAQI PRIME MINISTER IBRAHIM AL-JAAFARI ON WALL OF BUILDING LIST OF NATIONAL REFORM MOVEMENT OF AL-JAAFARI YOUNG MEN PASTING POSTERS OF NATIONAL REFORM MOVEMENT ON WALLS OF BUILDING STREET/WALL WITH POSTER OF SHI'ITE LEADER DA'WA PARY AL-JAAFARI YOUNG MEN PASTING CANDIDATES' POSTERS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BAGHDAD CITIZEN MAHMOUD SAEED SAYING: "In my opinion, it makes no difference whether the lists are opened or closed. The issue is that the people have to elect, they have to vote to sort out corrupted officials or officials who failed to do their duties, with my respects to all officials. Therefore, I urge people to vote, not because the lists are opened or closed, but in order to fight corruption and get rid of people who failed to serve the Iraqi people." ABDUL AZIZ AL-HAKIM'S LIST 290 OF AL-MIHRAB MARTYR POLICE VEHICLE DRIVING THROUGH CONCRETE BARRIER WITH POSTERS OF LIST 176
- Embargoed: 10th February 2009 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA288B9ZI8XH3NQSV4H2KIJTNMI
- Story Text: Baghdad's walls are adorned with posters of candidates, as the countdown to the country's Jan. 31 provincial elections continues.
With only six days to go before Iraq holds its provincial elections, the country's candidates are well into their campagins, plastering posters across the walls of the Capital on Sunday (January 25).
Even with violence taking a dip in the region, the United Nations warns the vote could stoke fresh bloodshed as rival Shi'ite Arab parties in Iraq's south, and Kurds and Arabs in the north vie for power.
Sunni Arabs, many of whom are looking for renewed political influence after staying away from the last provincial elections in 2005, will be represented in western Anbar province, a major Sunni Arab area, and elsewhere in the Jan. 31 vote.
Across Baghdad, workers scrubbed walls to make way for new posters, some featuring faces of well-known Iraqi politicians urging supporters to elect their party's candidates to the influential councils in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Small groupings like the Communists are not expected to upset the leadership of large national parties, such as those linked to major players such as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, or Shi'ite cleric Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who heads the powerful Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council.
As they wait for long-promised reconstruction and an end to the sectarian slaughter that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, many Iraqis are sceptical about the results of the elections will bring.
Some are more optimistic about the results. Mahmoud Saeed, an Iraqi citizen from Baghdad's Karrada sees the elections as a chance for people to choose a candidate who will be able to make a difference.
"In my opinion, it makes no difference whether the lists are opened or closed. The issue is that the people have to elect, they have to vote to sort out corrupted officials or officials who failed to do their duties, with my respects to all officials. Therefore, I urge people to vote, not because the lists are opened or closed, but in order to fight corruption and get rid of people who failed to serve the Iraqi people," he added.
The first two Iraqi elections in 2005 were run under a "closed list (CL)" system. In this system, voters voted not for individual candidates but for lists--coalitions of parties--which were then allocated a number of seats proportional to their votes. These seats were then distributed according to re-established rankings of individual candidates in each list.
More than 400 parties and 14,000 candidates will compete for 440 seats in the polls, in which Iraqis will select individual candidates rather than party lists as in the past.
Elections under former Iraqi leader Saddam Hossein were far from fair and ballots held since his fall under U.S. military supervision might not be considered free, Iraqis say.
The local polls, followed by national elections due later in 2009, are seen as a key test of Iraq's fledgling democracy, and as crucial to reconciling the country's many sectarian and ethnic groups after years of bloodshed and discrimination.
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