Iraq sealed off the heavily fortified Green Zone on Saturday ahead of a parliamentary session to elect the country’s new president, according to a local security official.
The vote is set to take place inside the Green Zone later on Saturday, an area that hosts most foreign diplomatic missions, including the US Embassy.
"Entrances to the Green Zone were closed to civilian entry and only official permit holders will be allowed to enter," the official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
He said the move was part of tight security measures put in place ahead of the vote.
“Security forces were deployed heavily in the vicinity of the Green Zone in anticipation of any emergency," the official added.
The election of a new president is an important step towards forming a new government in Iraq following the Oct. 10 parliamentary elections.
On Wednesday, the party of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced an agreement with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance on naming the KDP’s nominee Reber Ahmed for presidency and Mohammad Jaafar al-Sadr of Al-Sadr party for the position of Iraq’s prime minister.
Presidential elections initially scheduled for last month stalled after most parliamentary blocs boycotted the voting session due to differences over presidential candidates and the government formation.
Under a political norm since 2006, a Kurd is elected for Iraq’s presidency, while a Sunni heads the parliament, and a Shia takes the prime minister position.