Page last updated at 19:49 GMT, Saturday, 31 January 2009

In pictures: Iraq's landmark poll

An Iraqi man casts his voteat a polling station in the southern city of Basra

Iraqis have voted in provincial elections - the first major poll in the war-battered country since 2005.

Iraqi women make their way to a polling station in Basra

Voters were choosing local councils in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. More than 14,000 candidates competed for 440 council seats.

An Iraqi voter at a polling station

Officials hope the polls will give a clear signal that Iraq is heading towards stability after the US-led invasion in 2003.

A Iraqi woman with an ink  stained finger rests her hand on her son's head

Up to 15 million people were eligible to cast ballots. The voters' fingers were dyed with purple ink to try to avoid vote-rigging.

Iraqi policemen search voters outside a polling station in Baghdad

Stringent security measures were followed at polling stations amid fears of attacks by insurgents.

Iraqi voters walk to the secured Sallhiyeh polling station in central Baghdad

There was a complete ban on movement by vehicle in place, as officials tried to minimise the risk of car bomb attacks.

UN High Commission Representative Stephane Demistora visits a polling station in the western city of Ramadi

Some 400 international and about 300,000 local observers toured the polling stations to check for irregularities.

Iraqi electoral workers empty ballot boxes

At the end of a long day of voting, electoral workers are starting to count ballots. The first results are not expected until next week.

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