BAGDHAD (Dispatches) –
Security forces, prisoners and internally displaced people in Iraq have cast their ballots in an early voting for parliamentary elections ahead of Sunday’s general vote.
Iraqis are to elect a new parliament in the fifth such vote since a United States-led invasion of the country in 2003.
A total of 329 seats are up for grabs in the election, which was moved forward from 2022 as a concession to youth-led protests that erupted in late 2019.
More than 25 million citizens are eligible to vote – but not nationals living abroad. Voters are supposed to present a biometric card for what was conceived as a fully electronic voting process. However, some have not received the cards and authorities say provisions have been made to ensure they are not excluded.
More than 3,240 candidates are in the running, including 950 women.
One-quarter of seats are reserved for female candidates, and nine for minorities including Christians and Izadis.
The leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group has raised the alarm at possible electronic vote rigging in the country’s upcoming elections in favor of those seeking normalization with the Zionist regime, saying the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — which has recently made peace with the regime — has the potential to set the stage for such fraud.
“Electronic manipulations lead to fraudulent [election] results, and it is the UAE that has the ability to do so,” Qais al-Khazali said on Wednesday, speaking with Lebanon-based al-Mayadeen news network.
“They can manipulate the results with ease, and it is in the UAE’s interest that individuals supporting normalization win,” Khazali said. “Therefore, we will disregard the electronic results if they do not match the manual results.”
Reports published in recent years revealed that the UAE has been using the Zionist regime’s Pegasus spyware in a mass spying program that has targeted its own citizens and international journalists. The UAE rulers have also reportedly used Pegasus against Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s daughter as well as his ex-wife.
Khazali also said Iraq is in need of politicians capable of making sovereign decisions by staying away from the dictations of the Americans.
He added that the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq is inevitable, and that when it happens, it won’t be chaotic like the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and no coup will take place.
Iraq is emerging from almost two decades of war and militancy since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the 2011 withdrawal, which saw the rise of the Daesh terrorist group.