Iraq to close airspace, border crossings during election

An Iraqi Airways plane arrives at Baghdad airport, Iraq, January 27, 2015. (AP)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraq’s airspace and border crossings will be closed one day before the election until Oct. 11, authorities said on Wednesday.

Spokesman of the supreme security committee for elections Brigadier General Ghalib al-Attiyah said the committee had issued several directives, including limiting travel between the Iraqi provinces.

“All airports and border crossings will be closed from October 9 to the morning of October 11,” state news agency quoted Attiyah as saying.

“These measures came to ensure full protection to the electoral process,” he added.

Iraqis are headed to the polls on October 10 for early elections. The elections are being held a year before they had been scheduled to take place in line with a key demand of protesters who filled the streets in October 2019 demanding change in the country, where corruption is widespread.

The previous parliamentary elections in Iraq were held on May 12, 2018, and the next elections were originally scheduled to take place in 2022.

On Wednesday, Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for wide participation in the elections, saying despite “shortcomings”, voting remains the best way for Iraqis to take part in shaping their country’s future.

He encouraged all eligible Iraqis to participate “consciously and responsibly in the upcoming elections, although it is not without some shortcomings.”

He said Iraqis must take advantage of this important opportunity to shape their country’s future and “bring about a real change in the administration of the state and remove corrupt and incompetent hands.”

“Make a good choice, otherwise the failures of the previous parliaments and the governments emanating from them will be repeated,” he said.

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