Iraqi polls open in first elections since victory over IS

Haider al-Abadi
The Associated Press

BAGHDAD (AP) — Polls have opened across Iraq in the first national election since the declaration of victory over the Islamic State group.

No clear front-runner has emerged after weeks of official campaigning as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi faces stiff competition Saturday from political parties with closer ties to Iran.

The vote — the fourth since the 2003 U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein — will be conducted electronically for the first time to reduce fraud. Polling centers have been set up for many of the country’s 2 million people who remain displaced by the war against IS.

Al-Abadi took office just weeks after IS fighters overran nearly a third of Iraq’s territory in the summer of 2014 and has since overseen the grueling military defeat of the group.