An Iraqi elections team member registers voters before casting their ballots at a polling station during early parliamentary elections in the southern city of Nasiriyah in Iraq's Dhi Qar province, on October 10, 2021. (ASAAD NIAZI / AFP)
BAGHDAD – Millions of Iraqis are heading Sunday to polling stations across the country to elect the upcoming parliament amid hopes that it could solve the country's long-standing crisis.
Voters are lining up to cast their ballots at 8,273 polling centers, comprised of more than 55,000 polling stations, in Iraq, which opened their doors at 7:00 am local time (0400 GMT).
Voters are lining up to cast their ballots at 8,273 polling centers, comprised of more than 55,000 polling stations, in Iraq, which opened their doors at 7:00 am local time (0400 GMT)
Electronic devices will automatically close the voting process at 6:00 pm local time (1500 GMT).
According to the country's Independent High Electoral Commission, the results are expected to be announced in 24 hours afterwards.
Noting that the elections are the first carried out without imposing a curfew, as the security situation in the country has improved, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi praised the elections as an important achievement, and called on Iraqis to participate in the polls to further change the country's situation themselves.
"I prefer to be the first voter to cast my ballot, and all of us have to work to bring about the change, and this is an opportunity to achieve that," he told reporters in the first minutes of the voting at a polling center in a Baghdad school.
Iraqi President Barham Salih cast his vote at a polling center inside the Royal Tulip Al Rasheed Baghdad Hotel in the heavily fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad.
"This is a memorable day because early elections are a popular demand and an opportunity for Iraq to move towards reform," Salih told reporters.
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The Iraqi parliamentary elections, originally scheduled for 2022, were advanced in response to months of protests against corruption and a lack of public services.
According to the electoral commission, about 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballots for 3,249 candidates, running individually and within 167 parties and coalitions, vying for 329 seats in the legislature.