US President Barack Obama has congratulated Iraqis on the peaceful completion of the provincial elections and hoped that this would help them take responsibility of their future.
"I congratulate the people of Iraq on holding significant provincial elections today," Obama said in a statement after the provincial elections in Iraq concluded on Saturday without any major untoward incident.
Obama appreciated that millions of Iraqis from every ethnic and religious group went peacefully to the polls across the country to choose new Provincial Councils.
"It is important that the Councils get seated, select new Governors, and begin work on behalf of the Iraqi people who elected them," he said.
Noting that the elections were managed and organised by the Iraqi government itself with vital assistance from the United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq, Obama said the Iraqi police and military forces helped secure the polling sites and protected voters as they cast their ballots.
"This important step forward should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future," Obama said.
As promised during his presidential campaign last year, Obama has asked military commanders to come out with a plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. He had been a major opponent of the US invasion of Iraq and during election campaigns he had termed it as major mistake of the Bush Administration.
"The United States is proud to have provided technical assistance, along with the United Nations and other international organisations, to Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission – which performed professionally under difficult circumstances," Obama said in his statement.