BAGHDAD - Campaigning began Saturday for
Iraqi parliamentary elections with some
candidates embroiled in controversy after
aides pulled down pictures of fighters
killed in combat with jihadists and replaced
them with their own posters.
Around 7,000 candidates have registered to
stand in the May 12 poll, with 329
parliamentary seats up for grabs.
As the clock struck midnight on Friday,
volunteer workers spread across the country
to put up posters of the candidates,
"At midnight sharp, they began pulling down
pictures of the martyrs and replaced them
with posters of the thieves," said Baghdad
resident Settar Tourki.
Martyrs refer to the thousands of government
forces and allied militiamen killed fighting
to push back the Islamic State group after
the jihadists launched a sweeping offensive
Pictures of these forces killed in combat
dot the streets of Baghdad and major cities
Social media users cried foul as pictures of
politicians, referred to by some in Iraq as
"thieves" over allegations of corruption,
replaced those of combatants.
Facebook user Laith al-Shommari denounced
what he called an "insult" to the memory of
fighters "who have sacrificed their lives so
that we can live in peace and security".
"We should burn the electoral posters of all
these cowards and opportunists," he said
referring to the candidates.
The May elections will be the fourth
parliamentary and provincial assembly polls
since the ouster of dictator Saddam Hussein
in a US-led invasion in 2003.
Iraq is the 12th most corrupt country in the
world, according to international rankings.