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Iraq Official Fears Effects of Displacement on May Poll

Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri on Friday voiced doubts regarding the integrity of upcoming parliamentary polls, noting that hundreds of thousands of displaced persons may be unable to cast ballots.

Speaking to agencies in Baghdad on Friday, al-Jubouri said parliament had asked Iraq's official electoral commission to set up polling stations for displaced persons both inside and outside their respective areas of residence.

"We are deeply concerned about the fairness and transparency of the upcoming polls," he said.

"We know the elections may not be a priority for many displaced people," he added, "unless they can be convinced that their participation [in the polls] will help bring about the desired stability."

Al-Jubouri went on to assert that parliament planned to step up its oversight of the upcoming polls "to ensure voters can cast ballots freely".

Sunni political forces fear they will lose much of their current representation in the next government and parliament if Iraq's more than 2.5 million -- mainly Sunni -- displaced persons are unable to vote.

Some 5.7 million Iraqis, most of them Sunnis, were forced to flee their homes after the Daesh terrorist group overran vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq in 2014.

According to government figures, roughly half of these have since returned to their homes, while the rest remain in nearby provinces and refugee camps.

Some 24 million Iraqis are registered to vote in parliamentary polls scheduled for 12 May, according to the electoral commission.


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