[JURIST] Iraqis voted Thursday in Iraq's parliamentary elections [JURIST news archive] to choose their first full-term parliament since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. There was large voter turnout reported in Sunni Arab areas that had been disinterested in balloting last January, including in several insurgent strongholds such as Ramadi and Haqlaniyah. Sunni Arabs are hoping to end Shiite control of the government. The elections began amid several explosions, including one in the Green Zone, with two civilians killed in the attacks, and followed a day when Iraqi police seized forged ballots [JURIST report]. Most Iraqis walked to the polls as a result of a nationwide vehicle ban. It is possible that the winning party, which is largely expected to be an alliance of Shiite religious parties, may not be able to form a new administration without forming a coalition with rival groups. An interim government [official website] was elected in January, but the new parliament will name a new government, including a new prime minister. Although some preliminary returns will be available from the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) [official website] late Thursday, final counting will take days or even weeks. AP has more.
9:07 AM ET - AP is reporting that polls have now closed, though there are conflicting reports that the IECI has extended voting for another hour due to high voter turnout.
3:19 PM ET - Results of the parliamentary elections are expected within two weeks, and the IECI said Thursday that elections had been a success:
The IECI opened more than 6,200 polling centers across the country, staffed by more than 170,000 polling workers. The polls generally opened on time and voting continued peacefully without major incidents, monitored by 120,000 observers, including 800 accredited by international observer groups, and 230,000 political entity agents. The third and final day of the Out-of-Country voting is still in progress in some of the 15 countries involved in this exercise.The IECI also said that it has put in place a procedure for receiving and reviewing any electoral complaints. Read the full press release. AP has more.