BAGHDAD, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Iraqis will flow into polling stations all over the country Sunday for the general election, the second time since the topple of former president Saddam Hossein's regime in 2003.
The following are some heavyweight Iraqi politicians and figures who have huge influences in the country's political life.
PRIME MINISTER NURI AL-MALIKI
Maliki was born in Iraq's southern city of Hila. During the 1980s, he fled to Iran under the crackdown of his Dawa party by the former regime. He came back to Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.
As a powerful Shiite politician, Maliki will lead his State of Law Coalition to run in the upcoming election. He won wide support from southern Shiite-dominated provinces thanks to the security improvement since 2008. However, since the second half of 2009, the country's security has worsened with strings of car bombs targeting government buildings in Baghdad.
Analysts say it would be difficult for Maliki to win another term as prime minister unless he gets support from at least one of two other powerful blocs after the election.
GRAND AYATOHLAH ALI HUSSEINI SISTANI
Sistani is the current highest-ranking Shiite Muslim religious scholar in Iraq who lives in Najaf.
As an important political figure in post-invasion Iraq, he usually keeps himself out of normal politics in the country. But with his great influence over Iraqi Shiites, he has urged them to vote actively in the election for a better future of Iraq.
PRESIDENT JALAL TALABANI
Talabani is the current President of Iraq and a leading Kurdish politician. He is the first non-Arab president of Iraq.
Talabani is the founder and secretary general of one of the main Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He was a prominent member of the Interim Iraq Governing Council, which was established following the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime.
During this general election, Talabani formed the Kurdistan Alliance with another famous Kurdish politician Massud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
In the current 275-member parliament, the bloc has 53 seats. It is most likely to join hands with other coalitions to form the next government.
FORMER PRIME MINISTER AYAD ALLAWI
Allawi was the interim prime minister of Iraq prior to Iraq's 2005 legislative elections. A prominent Iraqi political activist who lived in exile for almost 30 years, the politically secular Shiite Muslim became a member of the Iraq Interim Governing Council, which was established by U.S.-led coalition authorities following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
He became Iraq's first head of government when the interim council dissolved on June 1, 2004 and named him prime minister of the Iraqi Interim Government. His term as prime minister ended on April 7, 2005.
Together with Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi and key Sunni lawmaker Salah al-Mutlak's National Dialogue Front, Allawi this time formed Iraqiya List, a wide cross-sectarian alliance, to compete in the election. The bloc is considered a big competitive rival against Maliki's bloc.
Al-Hakim is the head of Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), the largest Shiite party in Iraq. He was born in 1971 in Najaf, the son of Abdul Aziz Al-Hakim, who preceded him as leader of SIIC.
Al-Hakim has a significant impact on locals in cultural, social and political fields. He formed the Iraqi National Alliance, including anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, former prime minister Ibrahim al-Ja'fari and former deputy prime minister Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, to participate in the coming election.
The coalition is a strong challenge to the State of Law coalition, but analysts say the two are likely to join hands to form a government.
Sadr is an Iraqi theologian and political leader. Along with Sistani and al-Hakim of the SIIC, Sadr is one of the most influential religious and political figures in the country without holding any official title in the Iraqi government.
Sadr commands strong support (especially in the Sadr City district in Baghdad). After the fall of the Saddam government in 2003, Sadr organized thousands of his supporters into a political movement, which includes a military wing known as the Mehdi Army.
This group used to engaged in violent conflicts with the U.S. and other coalition forces, while the movement has formed its own religious courts, organized social services, law enforcement and prisons in areas under its control.
In the coming election, Sadr will stand and compete under the Iraqi National Alliance.
INTERIOR MINISTER JAWAD AL-BOLANI
Bolani, a former air force engineer under the Baath regime, assumed his present position in the government in 2006.
After his taking office, he declared his intention to clean up the ministry, firing employees and members of the security forces whom he saw as corrupt or too loyal to specific parties and militia rather than the state.
Bolani also sought to dismantle the death squads that had established themselves under his predecessor, Bayan Jabr, but his reforms were only partially successful.
Indeed, Bolani's critics claim that, far from being a loyal servant of the state, he is actually close to Sadr and allowed Sadrist elements to infiltrate into the ministry. He has also been accused of appointing members of his Constitution Party to high positions in the Ministry of Interior.
In preparation for the 2010 parliamentary elections, the Constitution Party originally sought to join with Maliki's Dawa and the State of Law bloc, but Bolani could not reach an agreement with Maliki, so he turned instead to Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha and Abdulghafour al-Sammuraie of the Mithaq Gathering to form the Iraq's Unity Coalition.
The bloc is also believed to be able to grab some seats.