President Barack Obama called it an “important milestone”. The US leader was among the first to praise the courage of Iraqi voters who turned out despite the bomb attacks.
Although it was the second national poll to be held in the troubled country, Washington views it as a shoring up of Iraqi democracy and a vindication of its 2003 invasion.
“Today’s voting is the beginning and not the end of a long electoral and constitutional process,” said President Obama. “The ballots must be counted, complaints must be heard, and Iraq, with the support of the United Nations, has a process in place to investigate and adjudicate any allegations of fraud.”
He continued: “As expected, there were some incidents of violence, but overall, the level of security and the prevention of destabilising attacks speaks to the growing capability and professionalism of Iraqi Security Forces.”
Obama took the opportunity to repeat his promise to withdraw US frontline troops in the next few months.
“By the end of August, our combat mission will end. As I said last year when I announced our new strategy in Iraq, we will continue to advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces, carry out targeted counter-terrorism operations with our Iraqi partners, and protect our forces and civilians.”
But if sectarian violence were to match that following the 2006/7 election, Obama’s plans would be seriously derailed.