- Title: IRAQ: Kurds vote in Iraq's parliamentary election
- Date: 8th March 2010
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PEOPLE WALKING INTO CENTRE
- Embargoed: 23rd March 2010 12:00
- Location: Iraq
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACYJ2ZFAWUQD73OO8OBK5PG3JW
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: People in the Kurdish city of Arbil headed to polling centres on Sunday (March 7) to elect the new government that will run the country for the coming four years.
Unlike in the capital Baghdad, polling in Arbil was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. Queues of people were seen outside polling centres in the city, the capital of the Kurdish autonomous region of Kurdistan.
Explosions elsewhere in the country killed 24 people as Iraqis voted in an election that Sunni Islamist militants have vowed to disrupt, in one of many challenges to efforts to stabilise Iraq before U.S. troops leave.
About 6,200 candidates from 86 factions are vying for 325 parliamentary seats. No bloc is expected to win a majority, and it may take months to form a government, risking a vacuum that armed groups such as Iraq's al Qaeda offshoot might exploit.
Few elections in the Middle East have been as competitive as this one. Its conduct could determine how democracy in Iraq affects a region used to kings and presidents-for-life.
Kurdish voter Jalal Mohammed from Arbil said he was was grateful for the democratic elections in Iraq.
"Thank God, the Iraqi people have been experiencing a model of democracy over the past years where people can elect their representatives, the political bloc and political leaders whom they want."
U.N. observer Christine McNab hailed the process as smooth and well-organised.
"So far, I have been to four polling centres and about 16 stations. It was very quiet at 0700 o'clock when they opened. But everything was prepared very well . Every station we have seen, they've had observers from the political parties and civil society. Very well organised, very nice atmosphere. Now there are a lot of people coming out to vote, old people, young people, people with their families and children. It is very nice, very good atmosphere."
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 the end of 2011. It will also be watched by oil companies planning to invest billions in Iraq.
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