Rudaw

  In Rudaw 

Iraq to shut airspace, limit travel during election

Iraq will take several measures to limit travel as part of their efforts to secure the October 10 election, including shutting down the airspace.

The airspace will be closed the evening before the election and reopen the morning of October 11, Ahmed Hoshyar, CEO of Erbil International Airport, told Rudaw English on Wednesday.

Iraq’s Supreme Electoral Security Committee announced that movement between cities will be limited, and borders and airports will be closed.  There will not be a curfew, but “motorcycles and satouta [three-wheeled cargo motorcycles] will be banned within the cities,” committee spokesperson Galib al-Atiya told state media.

Iraqis will go to the polls in less than two weeks, a year ahead of schedule. The election was called to meet a demand of protesters who brought down the government of former Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.

There are a total of 3,249 candidates, including 951 women, competing for 329 seats in the parliament. Nine seats are reserved by minorities and there are 67 candidates vying for these spots. At least 25 million Iraqis are eligible to vote, but polls predict a record low turnout because of fears of fraud and disillusionment with the political system.

The government has imposed strict security measures and is promising a fair and clean vote.

The United Nations has a group of 130 international experts and around 600 support staff monitoring the elections. A second observing team of 80 people from the European Union is also observing preparations ahead of the vote and election day.