Iraqi security personnel across the country cast their ballots Friday, two days before the rest of the nation votes in parliamentary elections.
The vote is being held six months before schedule, in line with a promise made by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi when he assumed office in 2020. He is seeking to appease anti-government protesters who rose up in October 2019 in Baghdad and Iraq’s south.
Friday’s so-called “special voting” two days ahead of the election is meant to free police and soldiers so they can provide security on Election Day. A government advisor for election affairs, Hussein al-Hendawi, said more than 1.5 million security personnel were eligible to vote, as well as 120,126 displaced persons and hundreds of hospital patients and prisoners. There are 3,449 candidates vying for 329 seats in parliament in Sunday’s vote, which will be the fifth held since the fall of Saddam Hussein after the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
More than 24 million of Iraq’s estimated 38 million people are eligible to vote.