News / Middle East

Iraqis Vote in First Polls Since US Withdrawal

A man holds up his ink-stained finger as he casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad, April 20, 2013.A man holds up his ink-stained finger as he casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad, April 20, 2013.
x
A man holds up his ink-stained finger as he casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad, April 20, 2013.
A man holds up his ink-stained finger as he casts his vote at a polling station in Baghdad, April 20, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
Iraqis voted Saturday for local councils in 12 provinces across the country, in the first popular election since the U.S. pullout in December 2011.

Turnout was light to moderate at polling stations across the capital, Baghdad, and in 11 other provinces where local council elections were held amid tight security. Around 8,000 candidates were reportedly vying for seats on the provincial councils.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki voted early at Baghdad's Rashid Hotel, along with several other top politicians. A handful of international observers were present to monitor the polling.

Observers say the vote is a barometer of Mr. Maliki's popularity in the lead-up to next year's parliamentary election. Rival Sunni politicians have been demanding that he step down, amid popular protests against him in western parts of the country.

No major violence was reported Saturday, despite widespread fears that Sunni insurgents might try to disrupt the vote. Mortar rounds and percussion bombs reportedly went off in six locations. General Othman al-Ghanami, a top election official, said violence was minimal.

He says that a security committee put together a detailed plan for the election, to ensure voters' safety and encourage them to turn out. He says that everyone knows how bad security once was, but that now, thank God, the situation is calm.

National election officials refused to extend voting beyond the official 5 p.m. closing time, despite a number of local requests to do so. Iraqi state TV reported that the vote count would get under way immediately in most places.

A number of complaints were reported, after voters at many polling stations indicated that their names were not on electoral lists and that officials refused to let them vote. A handful of middle-aged women argued with election officials in the town of Kut, insisting they should be allowed to vote.

They say that they are Iraqi citizens and that they cannot vote. They ask why their names are not on the electoral list even though they were told to come to a specific polling station for displaced people.

The election was the first since a disputed parliamentary poll in February 2009. Prime Minister Maliki came in second to former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in that election, but insisted on forming the next government. His Sunni rivals argue that he went on to marginalize their community, holding on to key ministries and refusing to respect a power-sharing agreement.

You May Like

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More