Security forces vote early in Iraq amid safety concerns during national poll

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Early voting is underway ahead of Wednesday’s national poll in Iraq to elect members to the country’s 328-seat parliament.

They are the first such elections since the withdrawal of US forces in 2011.

Police officers in the oil-rich north of Iraq, Kirkuk are casting their ballots now as they will not be able to on Wednesday.

A recent upsurge in violence in the country means the army and police will need to be on duty, manning polling stations and looking after security when the rest of the country goes to the polls.

Rising violence threatening to subvert an Iraqi election; so what’s new? Well the election posters lining the streets give an idea of what is changing in Iraq. The number of women running for parliament has doubled. This time around there are more than 2,600 female candidates. That’s slightly less than a third of the overall total.

Meanwhile the country’s electoral commission is getting ready for Wednesday’s national poll.

These elections will be a key test for the country’s fledgling democracy. Officials want the process to be transparent, but most of all safe – a tough ask with violence building and insurgents trying to disrupt the poll.

Already a number of candidates have been killed.

On Friday 28 people died in a bomb attack while leaving a stadium after a campaign rally in Baghdad.

An Al Qaeda offshoot is reported to have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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