BAGHDAD, April 30 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations envoy to Iraq on Wednesday urged people in the country to vote in the parliamentary elections to insure that they have a say in the future of Iraq.
"I urge all the citizens of Iraq, whatever nationality, whatever ethnic group they belong to, whatever religion they have, to come out and vote today," Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Iraq Nikolay Mladenov told reporters at a polling center outside the Green Zone in central Baghdad.
He said that only through high participation in the voting can the Iraqi people insure that they have a say in the future of the country.
As Iraqis began to cast their ballots Wednesday morning in the elections, the first since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country at the end of 2011, a series of bombing and shooting attacks struck polling centers in Iraq's eastern and northern provinces, leaving at least 10 dead and 22 wounded.
Mladenov admitted that the elections took place in a very difficult time in the country as "the security environment has deteriorated over the last few weeks, particularly during the campaign period."
"The United Nations and international community will be present throughout this process, as we have worked with the Independent High Electoral Commission and the Iraqi authorities, making sure they are prepared for this election," Mladenov said.
Over 21 million Iraqis are eligible to vote for a new parliament, one they hope will bring change to the violence- shattered country.
More than 9,000 candidates from nearly 280 political entities are vying for the 328 seats on offer.
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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