President Barack Obama on Thursday praised Iraq's parliamentary elections, saying the vote demonstrated the country's enthusiastic embrace of democracy despite "enormous challenges."
"Millions of Iraqis embraced their democratic right to vote," the president said in a statement following Wednesday's vote.
"The people of Iraq know better than anyone else the enormous challenges that they face, and yesterday's turnout demonstrated to the world that they seek to pursue a more stable and peaceful future through the political process."
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Obama said the election would serve to "unite the country through the formation of a new government that is supported by all Iraqi communities and that is prepared to advance tangible and implementable programs."
The US president pledged "the United States will continue to stand with the Iraqi people as partners in their pursuit of a peaceful, unified and prosperous future."
Preliminary results from the elections are not expected for another two weeks at the earliest.
Initial election commission figures said nearly 60 percent of Iraq's 20 million eligible voters cast ballots. Turnout in the last election, in 2010, was 62 percent.