The top United Nations official in Iraq today welcomed the smooth conduct of the Governorate Council Elections' Special Voting, where Iraqi soldiers and policeman cast their ballots ahead of next week's main vote.
“Today's special voting marks the beginning of the voting process,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Iraq, Martin Kobler said in a news release.
The country's electoral body, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC), demonstrated “a high level of professionalism in this first election organized under full Iraqi ownership,” Mr. Kobler stressed.
“Now that Iraqi security forces, police and military have exercised their right to cast their ballot, all eyes are focused on the election day on 20 April,” the UN Envoy noted. He urged the security forces to ensure a free and secure environment for the elections.
At least 15.5 million Iraqis are eligible to vote in the 20 April polls, according to official estimates, where more than 8,000 candidates are reportedly vying for 378 seats on provincial councils.
Provincial councils are responsible for nominating governors who take charge of the provinces' administration, finances and reconstruction projects.
“It is of the utmost importance that voters turn out in an orderly and safe environment free of violence, threats and intimidation,” Mr. Kobler concluded.
Next week's elections are the first Iraq has held since parliamentary elections in 2010.