Facts about Saturday's Iraqi election
By The Associated Press AP - Saturday, January 31
Facts and figures about Saturday's provincial elections in Iraq.
AT STAKE: 440 seats on provincial councils around most of Iraq except the Kurdish autonomous region in the north and the adjacent province that includes Kirkuk. The councils have wide powers in their respective regions. But the vote also is seen as a test of political strength before elections for national leadership later this year.
CANDIDATES: More than 14,000 candidates representing both established parties and hundreds of new factions, most notably Sunni tribes that rose up against insurgents and now seek political rewards. Major parties include a Shiite group loyal to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki; the country's biggest Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council; and the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni Arab bloc.
VOTING: Polls open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. (0400 GMT, 11 p.m. Friday EST to 1400 GMT, 9 a.m. EST) for an estimated 15 million eligible voters. Final results not expected for at least several days, and with so many parties, it may take even longer to determine which coalitions assume control of major provinces such as Baghdad, Basra and Mosul. Outside election monitors include observers from the United Nations and independent groups.
SECURITY: Iraqi forces taking the lead, but the U.S. military in standby role. A major clampdown imposed around Iraq includes traffic bans, border closings and double-ring cordons around polling places. Civilian women recruited to assist with searches for possible female suicide bombers.
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