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    Iraqis Cast Ballots Despite Threat of Violence

    Iraqis braved the threat of violence to vote Wednesday, in the country's first general elections since U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.

    Polls opened under tight security with voters choosing from among 9,000 candidates for the 328-seat parliament.

    Despite the massive police turnout, and a vehicle ban in Baghdad, election-related violence left at least 11 dead across the country.

    Security officials reported roadside bombs and suicide blasts targeting voters and polling stations in the north and west of the country.

    Despite the violence, many Iraqis remained determined to vote, some for what they hoped would be a new government that would bring change for future generations.

    Others came to support Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki who is seeking a third term in his post. Mr. Maliki cast his ballot Wednesday in Baghdad and urged Iraqis to turn out in large numbers.



    "On this occasion, I call upon all Iraqis to go to the ballot boxes and participate in large numbers in the election, because those who take part in the election will have the right to criticize and ask for accountability and monitor while those who do not take part in the election will not have that right. I do not want any citizen to miss out on his right in monitoring the election, I wish to see a huge turnout. God willing we will celebrate the success of the election and the defeat the terrorism and those who bet on election postponement. "



    Mr. Maliki's Shi'ite-based State of Law alliance is expected take the most seats, but fall short of a majority.

    The voting was boycotted by Sunni insurgents. Anti-Maliki factions accuse him of monopolizing power and deepening the country's divisions.

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