IN PICTURES: Iraqis take to the ballot box amid first post-ISIS elections

Polling centers have been set up for many of the country’s 2 million people who remain displaced by the war against ISIS. (Reuters)

Iraqis voted on Saturday in the first election since defeating ISIS, although voters said they had scant hope their new leaders would stabilize a country beset by conflicts, economic hardship and corruption.

Depending on the outcome, the poll could bolster Iran’s role in Iraq and the Middle East. Aside from geopolitics that have deepened sectarian divisions, Iraq faces challenges after a three-year war against ISIS which cost the country about $100 billion.

An Iraqi man casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

An Iraqi man casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Much of the biggest northern city of Mosul was reduced to rubble. Security is still threatened by sectarian violence, which erupted into a civil war at the height of a 2003-2011 U.S. occupation that followed the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Iraqi security forces stand guard outside a polling station during the parliamentary election in the Sadr city district of Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili

Iraqi security forces stand guard outside a polling station during the parliamentary election in the Sadr city district of Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Wissm al-Okili

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.

Iraqi children imitate their parents by showing their ink-stained index fingers after the couple voted at a polling station in the southern city of Basra on May 12, 2018. Iraq headed to the polls for its first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State group, with the country hoping to shore up a fragile peace and rebuild. (AFP)

Iraqi children imitate their parents by showing their ink-stained index fingers after the couple voted at a polling station in the southern city of Basra on May 12, 2018. Iraq headed to the polls for its first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State group, with the country hoping to shore up a fragile peace and rebuild. (AFP)

The former prime minister of Iraq Nouri al-Maliki casted his vote on Saturday. Meanwhile, the prime minister of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, Nechirvan Barzani, cast his vote in Irbil.

A handout picture released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on May 12, 2018 shows PM Haider al-Abadi having his biometric voting card checked with his fingerprint upon arriving at a poll station in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district, as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group. Polling stations opened at 7:00 am for the roughly 24.5 million registered voters to cast their ballots across the conflict-scarred nation. (AFP)

A handout picture released by Iraq's Prime Minister's Media Office on May 12, 2018 shows PM Haider al-Abadi having his biometric voting card checked with his fingerprint upon arriving at a poll station in the capital Baghdad's Karrada district, as the country votes in the first parliamentary election since declaring victory over the Islamic State (IS) group. Polling stations opened at 7:00 am for the roughly 24.5 million registered voters to cast their ballots across the conflict-scarred nation. (AFP)

No clear front-runner has emerged after weeks of official campaigning as Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi faces stiff competition from political parties with closer ties to Iran.

The vote - the fourth since the 2003 US-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein - will be conducted electronically for the first time to reduce fraud.

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Erbil, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Kurdistan Regional Government Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani casts his vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Erbil, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Polling centers have been set up for many of the country’s 2 million people who remain displaced by the war against ISIS. The polling stations are set to close at 4 p.m. GMT.

Later Saturday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered the reopening of the nation’s airspace and resumption of air traffic, state television reported.

The shutdown had come into effect at midnight on Friday as a security measure ahead of the voting. There was no significant incident reported by midday.

1 An Iraqi woman prepares herself to cast her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen

1 An Iraqi woman prepares herself to cast her vote at a polling station during the parliamentary election in Baghdad, Iraq May 12, 2018. REUTERS/Abdullah Dhiaa al-Deen

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:52 - GMT 06:52
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