IN PICS | Iraqis gear up to vote in parliamentary elections after victory over Islamic State

Published: 10th May 2018 03:34 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2018 04:05 PM  

Iraq is gearing up for key parliamentary elections on Saturday, some five months after declaring victory over the Islamic State group, with the dominant Shiites split, the Kurds in disarray and Sunnis sidelined. IN PIC: File photo of Iraqi security and civilians celebrate Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's declaration of victory over the Islamic State group, in Basra, Iraq. (AP)
A lull in violence ahead of the fourth such nationwide vote since Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003 has spurred some hope for Iraqis, but surging tensions between key players Iran and the United States could rattle the country. IN PIC: Campaign posters for parliamentary elections line a street in Baghdad. (AP)
Despite a rare period of calm, more than two and a half million people remain internally displaced and the jihadists still pose a major security threat. IN PIC: Campaign posters for parliamentary elections line a street in Baghdad. (AP)
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi -- who has balanced off Washington and Tehran -- is angling for a new term as he takes credit for the brutal fightback against the jihadists and seeing off a Kurdish push for independence. IN PIC: Haider al-Abadi gestures as he speaks to supporters during a parliamentary campaign rally in Baghdad. (AP)
But stiff competition from within the PM's Shiite community, the majority group that dominates Iraqi politics, should fragment the vote and spell lengthy horse-trading to form any government. IN PIC: Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the militant Shiite group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, speaks to his followers during a campaign rally in Baghdad. (AP)
Among the other groups jostling for position in the negotiations to come is an unlikely alliance between Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr and secular communists that is looking to ride a wave of protests against corruption. IN PIC: Followers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr take part in a parliamentary campaign rally in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)
Votes in the Sunni heartlands once dominated by IS -- including Iraq's devastated second city Mosul -- are up in the air as traditional alliances have been shredded by the fallout of jihadist rule. IN PIC: An Iraqi soldier dips his finger in ink after voting in the country's parliamentary elections in Baghdad. (AP)
Political forces in the Kurdish community -- often seen as potential kingmakers -- are also in disarray after a controversial vote for independence in September backfired spectacularly. IN PIC: Iraqis security forces queue to cast their votes at a ballot station in Baghdad. (AP)
The swirling uncertainty around the elections has sparked concern that IS -- which has threatened to attack the vote -- could profit from any power vacuum. IN PIC: An Iraqi traffic policeman, right, casts his vote at a polling center in Baghdad. (AP)
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