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Since campaigning officially began on February 12, cities across Iraq's northern Kurdish region have been waiting for the election in anticipation.

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Posters depicting a number of candidates and officials festoon the streets and lamp posts are strewn with banners and bunting.

Traditionally there have been two main Kurdish parties, but as Zeina Khodr reports from Sulaimaniyah, there is now a powerful, new force to contend with.

Most ethnic Kurds in Iraq's northern region known as "Iraqi Kurdistan" see the national elections on March 7 as about safeguarding their hard-won political gains since the US-led war ousted the Baathist government in 2003.

Source: Al Jazeera