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Iraq Holds Provincial Council Elections Amidst Boycott and Security Measures

People in Iraq participated in the first provincial council elections since 2013 on Monday. The elections are seen as an opportunity to rejuvenate democracy and prepare for the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2025. However, they are overshadowed by a boycott led by populist cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, the main political rival of the Shiite Muslim alliance expected to strengthen its power.

  • The elections cover 15 provinces in Iraq, excluding the three autonomous Kurdistan regions.
  • Approximately 17 million people are eligible to vote at 7,166 polling stations with heightened security measures.
  • Polling stations opened in Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Basra at 7:00 a.m. local time and will continue until 6:00 p.m. local time.
  • Over 6,000 candidates are competing for 285 seats in the provincial councils.
  • The elections serve as a test for Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s government, established over a year ago.
  • The Coordination Framework coalition, an Iran-aligned bloc, is expected to strengthen its influence in the elections.
  • Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a vocal critic of the US and Iran, is boycotting the elections, citing concerns about a corrupt political class.
  • The Shiite alliance includes factions of Hashed al-Shaabi, and former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has formed his own list.
  • Top Sunni Muslim leaders, ousted parliament speaker Mohammed Halbousi and businessman Khamees Khanjar, are running together.

The elections are viewed as a crucial step in shaping Iraq’s political landscape, and the results will likely impact the power dynamics within the country.

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