by Xu Ruiqing, Kan Jingwen
BAGHDAD, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's April 30 general election is just around the corner, as candidates from different entities are making intensive public campaigns to attract more votes.
Due to the escalating violence across the country, it's not easy to see massive campaign activities on the streets. Many election candidates and their supporters choose relatively safe places to canvass for support.
At the old quarter of Baghdad, a winding alley named after the Iraqi poet Al Mutanabbi is one of the places.
Bookstores and stalls of every description occupy the street- level spaces, selling technical manuals, ornate copies of the Quran and a nice selection of pirated software.
Mohammad Awmad, a translator in an Iraqi firm, was spreading name cards of the candidate his supports to the passersby in front of a bookstore.
"I support one candidate from Iraqi Coalition, and I will cast my vote on April 30 in the polling station," Awmad said in fluent English.
More than 9,000 candidates from nearly 280 political entities are vying for the 328 parliamentary seats in Iraq's April 30 general election.
This is the first national election since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country at the end of 2011. Many Iraqis pin their hope of changes on the upcoming election despite their suffering from bloodshed, lack of public services and a weak government.
"I will go to the polling station to cast my vote to my support candidate, and a democratic election is the best way to solve problems Iraq is facing," said Stair Muhsan, owner of a two-year- old bookstore in a second-hand book market.
"Iraq has experienced a long time of turbulence. I hope the upcoming parliamentary election can bring changes to my country, and can stop the relentless violence across the country," Muhsan said.
Al Mutanabbi Street was rocked by a car bombing on in March 2007 when around 30 people were killed. The government closed the street after the bomb for one year and reopened it in 2008.
Mouhsan said the business is getting worse because of security concerns. The authorities have cordoned off many routes, making it even harder for book buyers to get to the market.
"The security situation in Iraq should be the top concern of the new government, we need improve the security situation," Mouhsan added.
Iraq is witnessing its worst sectarian violence in recent years. According to the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq, more than 8,800 Iraqis were killed in 2013, the highest annual death toll in years.
In peak years of 2006 and 2007, Baghdad residents used to see dead bodies lying on open ground in the neighborhood on way to and from work place.
Recent years have seen improvement, but bombings and gun battles still happen on a daily basis.
"I hope the election can change the current security situation and a new government for all Iraqis, not only for a specific religious sect, can be founded after the election," said Hameed Alrubai, an Iraqi novelist who was seen picking books carefully at one of the stalls.
"I believe the darkness will pass away and Iraq will have a bright future soon," Alrubai said.
News Analysis: Iraqi PM faces tough challenges to win 3rd term
BAGHDAD, April 27 (Xinhua) -- Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who also leads the mainly shiite State of Law Coalition is gearing up for election campaigns to win a third term in office as the early voting for Iraq's parliamentary election is to start on Monday.
But many local analysts said that Maliki will face severe challenges in seeking a new term from other electoral entities, including rival Shiite blocs, after his eight years of reign. Full story