Iraq holds first election since US troop withdrawal

A hospital patient casts his vote in Basra. Picture: AP

A hospital patient casts his vote in Basra. Picture: AP

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IRAQIS are going to the polls in provincial elections, the first held in the country since American troops left in 2011.

The vote is seen as a major test of the Iraqi army and police, governing an election for the first time since the country’s invasion in 2003. A wave of car bombings killed 55 people on Monday.

Some attacks on polling stations have been reported around Baghdad and Samarra, but security cordons and vehicle checkpoints have been set up across the country in an attempt to allow the elections to pass smoothly.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has called on citizens to vote in order to preserve democracy in the country.

He said: “I say to all those who are afraid for the future of Iraq and afraid of a return of violence and dictatorship that we will fight by casting ballots.”

Almost 14 million Iraqis are eligible to vote for more than 350 seats in provincial councils across the country.

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