by Xu Ruiqing, Jamal Hashim
BAGHDAD, April 29 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq stressed the importance of the parliamentary election for Iraq to get out of the current situation.
"The future of Iraq will depend on this election," al-Mutlaq said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the eve of the election.
"If Iraqis go to vote, Iraq will change," al-Mutlaq said on Monday. "If they are reluctant and make a wrong choice, Iraq will stay as it is now and will even be worse."
The April 30 general election is the first such election since the withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the country by the end of 2011.
He warned that the country will drop into a real crisis if the ongoing situation continues.
More than 9,000 candidates from nearly 280 political entities are vying for the 328 parliamentary seats in the election.
Mutlaq said every Iraqi should go to the voting centers to cast their ballots so that Iraq can build a democratic country and solve the issue of sectarian division after the election.
"Our country needs politicians and political blocs who believe in the unity of Iraq and their society, those who raise the national identity and the Arab identity above all other identities, because the sectarian identities will tear up the country," Mutlaq said.
The country is witnessing its worst sectarian violence in recent years. According to the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, more than 8,800 Iraqis were killed in 2013, the highest death toll in years.
Election-related attacks in recent days have also left hundreds of people killed and injured.
Iraq's current prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, who leads the mainly Shiite State of Law Coalition, is seeking a third term in office.
Many local observers believe that the coalition will possibly lead in the elections this time but still be far away from securing a majority.
Mutlaq, who earlier voiced opposition to a third four-year term for Maliki, said "the chance for Maliki to win this year's election is very weak."
Mutlaq is the leader of the secular Iraqiya coalition, which consists of National Iraqi Dialogue Front and eight other entities and has many supporters in Sunni areas.