Kadhimi calls on Iraqis to vote to create ‘better future’ for Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi cast his ballot in Iraq’s general election, October 10, 2021.

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Sunday called on Iraqis to use voting to create a “new and better future” for the country, as Iraqis headed to polling stations to cast votes for Iraq’s general election.

Kadhimi cast his ballot in Baghdad after polling stations opened across Iraq at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, calling on Iraqis to widely participate in the early election.

“We all have to work to change our reality. Go out and vote for the sake of Iraq and your future,” Kadhimi said after he cast his ballot.

“We need a wise leadership that cares about the interests of Iraq,” he added.

Separately, Kadhimi said in a tweet that Iraq’s future depends on the participation of Iraqis in the general election.

“To all Iraqis: exercise your right, and duty, to vote and use it to create a new and better future for us all,” Kadhimi said.

A total of 329 seats are up for grabs in the election, which was moved forward from 2022 as a concession to youth-led pro-democracy protests that erupted in late 2019.

There are fears voter turnout could drop below the 44.5 percent figure registered in 2018.

More than 24 million citizens are eligible to vote. They are supposed to present a biometric card for what was conceived as a fully electronic voting process.

As many as 3,226 candidates are in the running, including nearly 950 women.

One quarter of seats are reserved for female candidates, and nine for minorities including Christians and Yazidis.

A new single-member constituency system is supposed to boost independents and reduce traditional political blocs, largely centered on religious, ethnic and clan affiliations.

Hundreds of international and Arab League observers will monitor the election on Friday.

On Friday, more than 821,000 voters out of 1,196,524 members of the Iraqi and Kurdish security forces, prisoners and displaced persons cast their ballots in the special voting for Iraq’s parliamentary election.

This year nationals living abroad will not be voting.

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