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PM 'certain' of victory as Iraqis stream to polls despite unrest

Published on Apr 30, 2014 2:07 PM
 

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Voters braved the threat of attacks to stream to polling centres Wednesday in Iraq's first elections since United States troops withdrew, with Premier Nuri al-Maliki proclaiming "certain" victory as he cast his ballot.

Long queues formed from early morning at tightly guarded election centres despite a spate of attacks in recent days on polling booths and campaign gatherings.

Iraqis have a long list of grievances, ranging from poor public services to rampant corruption and high unemployment, but the month-long campaign has centred on Mr Maliki's bid for a third term and a dramatic deterioration in security.

Mr Maliki encouraged voters to turn out in large numbers, and voiced confidence that he would return to power after casting his ballot at a VIP voting centre set up in the Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone. "Today is a big success, and even better than the last elections, even though there is no foreign soldier on Iraqi soil," the Premier said.

Iraqi Kurdish residents mark their ballots at voting booths inside a polling station during parliamentary election, in the northern Iraqi province of Dohuk, on April 30, 2014. Voters braved the threat of attacks to stream to polling centres Wednesday in Iraq's first elections since United States troops withdrew, with Premier Nuri al-Maliki proclaiming "certain" victory as he cast his ballot. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
 
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