Iraqi security members to vote earlier ahead of April 20 polls

The Iraqi Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) announced Thursday that some 651,000 Iraqi security members will participate in the early voting on Saturday ahead of the country's provincial elections, slated for April 20. "The IHEC will open the doors of 1,845 polling stations belonging to 420 polling centers across 12 Iraqi provinces nationwide for the Iraqi security forces to participate in the early voting of the provincial elections," Miqdad al-Sharifi, head of the IHEC's electoral department told reporters in Baghdad.

The early voting will be held a week earlier that the scheduled April 20 provincial elections when some 14.2 million eligible Iraqis are expected to pick up their provincial councils from some 8,138 candidates, Sharifi said in his remarks over the polls. The voting process will be under the monitoring of more than 138,000 local observers and representatives of the competitive entities, in addition to 204 international and Arab observers, according to Sharifi.

Speaking to reporters, Kadhim al-Zobaie, vice chairman of the commission's board, said that 265 political entities and 50 coalitions will run in the polls for the 378 seats across Iraq excluding Al-Anbar and Nineveh provinces. The latest provincial elections in Iraq were held on January 31, 2009. The local elections are due to be held every four years, according to the Iraqi constitution.

Philippines News agency