- Title: IRAQ: Polls open, overshadowed by threat of insurgent violence
- Date: 8th March 2010
- Summary: BAGHDAD (MARCH 7, 2010) (REUTERS) (** FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY**) IRAQI ELECTION STAFF BEING BRIEFED, OPENING POLLING STATION AT RASHEED HOTEL IN BAGHDAD GREEN ZONE VOTERS REGISTERING MAN GOING BEHIND BOOTH PEOPLE REGISTERING MAN CASTING HIS BALLOT ANOTHER CASTING HIS VOTE WOMAN GOING BEHIND BOOTH WOMAN CASTING HER BALLOT HEAD OF SUPREME ISLAMIC IRAQI COUNCIL, AMMAR AL-HAKIM, SURROUNDED BY DELEGATES AND JOURNALISTS, ENTERING POLLING STATION HAKIM APPROACHING REGISTRATION DESK HAKIM VOTING
- Embargoed: 23rd March 2010 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAASS2LNSIOQY5K40OSDOMOOSEZ
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Polling station across Iraq opened on Sunday (March 7) as residents began to vote in parliamentary election that will help to determine whether their shaky democracy can end sectarian conflict and defeat insurgents who are trying to plunge Iraq back into broader bloodshed.
Voting began at 7 a.m. (0400 GMT) across the ethnically and religiously divided country, overshadowed by threats of attack by al Qaeda's Iraqi offshoot.
Voters can pick between the mainly Shi'ite Islamist parties that have dominated Iraq since Saddam Hussein's fall and rivals offering secular alternatives.
Head of Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, Ammar al-Kakim, surrounded by a large entourage of officials and journalists, arrived at the al-Rasheed hotel in Baghdad's Green Zone to cast his vote.
Iraq's political course will be decisive for President Barack Obama's plans to halve U.S. troop levels over the next five months and withdraw entirely by end-2011. It will also be watched closely by energy companies that have committed themselves to investing billions in Iraq's vast oilfields.
It is impossible to predict who will lead Iraq's next government after an election that stands out in the Middle East for its competitiveness. There are about 6,200 candidates from 86 political groups vying for 325 parliamentary seats.
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