The Iraqi government has "fulfilled its promise" to hold parliamentary polls on time despite recent militant activity and sectarian tension
BAGHDAD – The Iraqi government has "fulfilled its promise" to hold parliamentary polls on time despite recent militant activity and sectarian tension, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday.
"We have fulfilled our promise to [the people] to hold parliamentary elections on time and provide a [suitable] atmosphere for competition," al-Maliki said in a press statement.
"We faced the rumors promoted by terrorists and others who had hoped to derail the elections," he added.
Iraq's election commission on Wednesday said that around 60 percent of eligible voters had turned out for nationwide parliamentary polls held one day earlier.
Around 20 million Iraqi voters were eligible to elect 328 new lawmakers.
The vote took place amid myriad security challenges, particularly in the western, predominately-Sunni Anbar province and in certain parts of the country's north, where government forces continue to battle militant groups.
The Iraqi army has waged a major offensive in Anbar since last December with the stated aim of flushing out militants who Baghdad claims are linked to Al-Qaeda.
Many local Sunni tribes opposed to Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, meanwhile, continue to voice anger over the army operation's mounting civilian death toll.
Since the offensive began late last year, hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured in Ramadi and Fallujah, according to government officials.
Wednesday's elections were the first since U.S. troops withdrew from the Arab country three years ago.
In 2010 parliamentary polls, 62.4 percent of Iraq's voting public participated.
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