Iraq to close borders, airspace ahead of parliamentary polls

Iraqis to vote in parliamentary elections on Sunday.

Iraq to close borders, airspace ahead of parliamentary polls

Iraq said it will close its borders and airspace Saturday evening ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections on Sunday.

"Airlines operating in Iraq and passengers have been informed of the closure of all airports in Baghdad, Najaf, Basra, Erbil and Sulaymaniyah,” the Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement.

The authority said the closure will start from 6 p.m. (1500 GMT) Saturday until 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday.

Land and sea borders will also be closed and inter-city movement will be banned as part of security measures ahead of the polls.

Sunday’s parliamentary elections will see 3,249 candidates representing 21 coalitions and 109 parties vying for seats in the 329-member parliament.

According to the Iraqi election commission, 24 million Iraqis are eligible to cast their ballot in the weekend polls out of the country’s 40 million population. The vote will be supervised by around 1,800 foreign observers.

On Friday, Iraqi security forces displaced Iraqis, and prisoners cast their votes in the parliamentary elections.

The polls were originally scheduled to be held in 2022, but political parties decided to hold early elections following mass protests that erupted in 2019 against deep-seated corruption and poor services.

The Sunday vote is the fifth in Iraq since 2003 when a US-led invasion overthrew the regime of former President Saddam Hussein.