Iraq’s expat communities around the world have begun voting ahead of Thursday’s parliamentary poll in their homeland. There are more than 1.5 million Iraqis living in 15 different countries with the right to vote and if London is typical, the general turnout is expected to be high.
Thursday’s poll will elect Iraq’s first full four-year government since the fall of Saddam Hussein. Preparations for the vote in Iraq include tight security measures. In the western Sunni stronghold of Ramadi, gunmen have assassinated a high profile Sunni Muslim politician while he was out campaigning. He was the latest of several influential Sunnis to be killed in the run up to the election.
In all there are 7,700 candidates, either running as members of political parties or independents. Once elected the largest bloc in the 275 member assembly will propose a prime minister who will then try to form a government. The election comes after Iraqis approved a new constitution which according to Iraq’s President, Jalal Talabani, also watered down the role of President.Talabani has said he will not serve a second term after Thursday’s vote.