Polling stations have been set up in Iraq early Friday for security forces, asylum-seekers and prisoners to vote in early general elections on a "special voting day."
Election centers in many districts of the capital Baghdad have opened their doors, two days before the rest of the country will go to the polls.
In Baghdad, security was tight as dozens of army cadets wearing masks and gloves lined up at a polling station set up in a school, after voting got underway at 7 a.m (4 a.m. GMT). Those who come to the centers to vote will not be allowed to bring their mobile phones inside, according to Anadolu Agency (AA).
More than 1 million security force members are able to vote on Friday in the locations where they are stationed because voting in their home regions – as other citizens will do – could prove challenging for those in distant locations.
Also casting ballots Friday are around 120,000 displaced people, some of them living in 27 camps, and more than 600 prison inmates, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
Iraq's election is being held a year early in a rare concession to a youth-led protest movement that broke out in 2019 against a political class widely blamed for unemployment and crumbling public services.
The movement was suppressed, and an overwhelming majority of those who took part have decided to boycott the election, which they say is being held in an undemocratic climate.
In recent months, dozens of activists have fallen victim to a wave of assassinations and kidnappings that have been blamed on pro-Iranian groups.
Analysts say the same parties will continue to hold the balance of power after the vote. More than 3,240 candidates are in the running.
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