Iraqis are voting in parliamentary elections today – a process overshadowed by violence and sectarian tension.
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is hoping to win a third term claiming only he is capable of defeating a growing al-Qaeda inspired insurgency.
But his critics, mainly Sunni Arabs say his reliance on a narrow Shiite base is only fueling divisions. Kurds meanwhile think he is trying to take over their autonomous region.
“We in the Doura district are suffering from terrorism, bombings and raids by government and non-government forces, therefore we need change,” says Usama al-Dulaimi. “We hope that out candidates will be able to save us from militants to live in peace. We see no improvement over the past eight years instead our lives are going from bad to worse.”
Security is tight – violence in Iraq is at its highest in five years. The election could have an influence on future stability – an attempt to stop coexistence between Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds from breaking down altogether.