Iraq Elections 2018: Voter turnout at 44.52 percent, says electoral commission

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Iraqis voted on Saturday in the first parliamentary election since the country declared victory over ISIS, but the turnout was historically low. The balloting is expected to be a referendum on Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s tenure and his pledge to be more inclusive of Iraq’s Sunni minority.

Voting on Saturday ended at 6 PM and the turnout in was 44.52 percent with 92 percent of the votes counted, the electoral commission said.

No election since 2003 saw turnout below 60 percent. More than ten million Iraqis voted.

Results are expected within 48 hours according to the electoral commission.

The Commission also said that it will examine all the electoral complaints separately.

“Tomorrow (Sunday), all papers will be sent to check the results,” the commission said.

“All the rumors in the media about manipulation or falsification are unfounded,” the official said. “There are parties that are trying to mix the papers and confuse the Iraqi public opinion.”

The governor of Iraq’s Kirkuk province declared a curfew on Saturday and ordered a manual recount of votes there in the national election, saying an electronic counting system had produced an “illogical” result.

Rakan al-Jubouri, governor of the northern oil-rich region, announced a curfew from midnight until 6 am to prevent any ethnic or sectarian tension between its Kurdish, Arab and ethnic Turkmen communities.

Al-Jubouri did not elaborate in his statement on the problem with the vote-counting system.

Entrenched corruption, the influence of Iran and the future of US forces currently in Iraq are other issues that have dominated the run-up to the election. There are 329 seats at stake, with nearly 7,000 candidates from dozens of different political alliances.

Few foresee a dramatic government shake-up, however. The most powerful alliances expected to win the most seats are headed by the same parties that have dominated Iraqi politics since 2003.

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