EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has praised Iraqis for turning out in big numbers to vote in parliamentary elections despite threats of violence by Islamist militants.
"I voted," says this man, holding up a finger with ink to prove he did
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton has praised Iraqis for turning out in big numbers to vote in parliamentary elections despite threats of violence by Islamist militants.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the solid voter turnout "had reconfirmed the commitment of the Iraqi people to a democratic country who deserved the respect from all."
The European Union, she added, was looking forward to working with the new Iraqi government when it is formed.
Iraqis have chosen democracy, says EU top diplomat Ashton
"The EU continues to support Iraq in its efforts to reconstruct the country and rebuild its political system - including its transition to democracy. We remain committed to a long term partnership," she said.
US President Barack Obama congratulated the Iraqi people for exercising their right to vote and for choosing the political process to shape their future.
Elections marred by violence
Bomb and mortar attacks near polling stations killed at least 38 people, mainly in the Iraqi capital Baghdad and the northern city of Mosul. Despite the threats of violence, Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission said there had only been a few closures at Iraq's 50,000 polling stations.
Some 19 million voters were eligible to pick between mainly Shiite Islamist and secular parties on Sunday. While no figures were released late on Sunday, turnout appeared to be as high, or higher than in the last elections.
These were the second parliamentary elections since US-led forces ousted former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003. The poll is seen as a key test ahead of a planned US troop withdrawal next year
Results are not expected for several days. Observers say it could take months before a government could be formed as no political group appears to have dominated the elections.
Editor: Andreas Illmer