Iraqi security forces on Friday started voting in the country’s parliamentary elections, two days before other voters cast their ballots in the polls brought forward in response to months-long street protests.
The elections are the second such vote since Iraq declared a military victory over the Islamic State militant group almost four years ago.
Islamic State had overrun large swathes in northern and western Iraq in 2014.
On Friday, members of security forces, internally displaced people and inmates were voting to elect a new parliament in what is called “special balloting.”
Long lines were seen forming at some polling stations in Baghdad.
Other eligible voters are to head to polls across Iraq on Sunday to elect the 329-strong legislature. A quarter of the parliamentary seats are allocated for women.
More than 250,000 security personnel have been deployed to secure polling stations across Iraq, Major-General Saad Maan, a senior security official, told dpa.
Islamic State has been weakened after its military defeat in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Cells of the extremists remain active, however, and regularly carry out attacks in parts of Iraq.
Mass street protests erupted in Iraq in October 2019 with Demonstrators calling for the government to resign, the dissolution of parliament and an overhaul of the country’s political system, which has been in place since the 2003 US-led invasion.
Last year, incumbent Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi called for early parliamentary elections. The mandate of the assembly, elected in 2018, was due to expire in 2022.