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Polls Open in Iraq; Blast Rocks Baghdad

An explosion marked the start of voting in Iraq, Thursday morning, as Iraqis headed to the polls to elect their first four- year, full-term government.

The explosion appears to have been a mortar round launched toward the American-protected Green Zone in Central Baghdad, just as polls opened at 0700 local time.

Later in the morning, Iraqi leaders were shown on television voting in the Green Zone. Across the country, 15 million Iraqis are eligible to vote at more than 33,000 polling stations.

Voters will choose a new 275-member National Assembly. That assembly will replace the current National Assembly, selected in the election, earlier this year. That government was tasked with writing the country's new constitution.

The new government will now go about amending key provisions in the constitution. One of the most controversial constitutional issues left unresolved is the balance of power between Iraq's central and provincial governments.

Other key issues the government will face include providing security and basic services like electricity.