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Thread: Iraqis Defy Attacks to Cast Historic Votes

  1. #1
    Samurai's Avatar Usenet Fanboy
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    Iraqis Defy Attacks to Cast Historic Votes

    8 minutes ago

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraqis danced and clapped with joy Sunday as they voted in their country's first free election in a half-century, defying insurgents who launched eight deadly suicide bombings and mortar strikes at polling stations. The attacks killed at least 31 people.


    After a slow start, men and women in flowing black abayas — often holding babies — formed long lines, although there were pockets of Iraq where the streets and polling stations were deserted. Iraqis prohibited from using private cars walked streets crowded in a few places nearly shoulder-to-shoulder with voters, hitched rides on military buses and trucks, and some even carried the elderly in their arms.


    "This is democracy," said Karfia Abbasi, holding up a thumb stained with purple ink to prove she had voted.


    Officials said turnout appeared higher than expected, although it was too soon to tell for sure. Iraqi officials have predicted that up to 8 million of the 14 million voters — just over 57 percent — would participate.


    In a potentially troublesome sign, the polls at first were deserted in mostly Sunni cities like Fallujah, Ramadi and Samarra around Baghdad, and in the restive, heavily Sunni northern city of Mosul.


    Clashes had erupted between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers in western Mosul. And in Baghdad's mainly Sunni Arab area of Azamiyah, the neighborhood's four polling centers did not open, residents said.


    A low Sunni turnout could undermine the new government and worsen tensions among the country's ethnic, religious and cultural groups.


    A Web site statement purportedly from Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for election-day attacks in Iraq, although the claim could not be verified. The Jordanian militant is said to be behind many of the suicide car-bombings, kidnappings and beheadings of foreigners in Iraq, and his group vowed to kill those who ventured out to vote.


    Casting his vote, Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi called it "the first time the Iraqis will determine their destiny."


    Turnout was brisk in Shiite Muslim and mixed Shiite-Sunni neighborhoods. Even in the small town of Askan in the so-called "triangle of death" south of Baghdad, 20 people waited in line at each of several polling centers. More walked toward the polls.


    Rumors of impending violence were rife. When an unexplained boom sounded near one Baghdad voting station, some women put their hands to their mouths and whispered prayers. Others continued walking calmly to the voting stations. Several shouted in unison: "We have no fear."


    "Am I scared? Of course I'm not scared. This is my country," said 50-year-old Fathiya Mohammed, wearing a head-to-toe abaya.


    At one polling place in Baghdad, soldiers and voters joined hands in a dance, and in Baqouba, voters jumped and clapped to celebrate the historic day. At another, an Iraqi policeman in a black ski mask tucked his assault rifle under one arm and took the hand of an elderly blind woman, guiding her to the polls.


    In Ramadi, U.S. troops coaxed voters with loudspeakers, preaching the importance of every ballot.

    More @ Source


    Good for them. I personally had the impression that no one was going to turn up. For 57% to turn out to vote, that's pretty awesome.

  2. The Drawing Room   -   #2
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Power to the Iraqi people!

    57%...I wonder what the figure could have been?

    I think the coming months will give rise to indicators much more significant than to this point.
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

  3. The Drawing Room   -   #3
    It is going to make for nice airplay here in the US, but I am mulling over the actual meaning of this to the people of Iraq.

    What has actually changed?

    The key is whether Iraqis will recognize this new government as actually theirs and the path to the future.

    For this to mean anything, the average Iraqi will have to change his attitude from turning a blind eye to insurgents, to becoming the eyes and ears of the new government.

    If the insurgents now must stay below the vision of citizens of Iraq as well as the US and Iraq militaries, their days are numbered.

    If not, then......

  4. The Drawing Room   -   #4
    Another question to ask is "Who did they vote for?" Many of the candidates said the US should withdraw as soon as the election is over. What happens if they are in the majority? Will it be seen as another puppet government if the US stays? 57% seems a little on the high side to me, there weren't huge queues in any of the TV reports l saw. The next few days will be interesting.

  5. The Drawing Room   -   #5
    Quote Originally Posted by UKResident
    Another question to ask is "Who did they vote for?" Many of the candidates said the US should withdraw as soon as the election is over. What happens if they are in the majority? Will it be seen as another puppet government if the US stays? 57% seems a little on the high side to me, there weren't huge queues in any of the TV reports l saw. The next few days will be interesting.
    Oh, they all didn't need to show up in person. Some just called their votes in from home and US troops gladly filled out their ballots for them.


  6. The Drawing Room   -   #6
    ruthie's Avatar Poster
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    Perhaps mindful that many Iraqis didn't plan to vote, several political parties continued campaigning past the cut-off date, resulting in small fines levied Saturday by the Iraqi Electoral Commission. Among those fined were U.S.-backed interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, President al-Yawer and the country's two most prominent Kurdish politicians.
    Why does this not surprise me...about Allawi?
    My concern is that the election means nothing, and it will be business as usual in Iraq...US businesses, that is.
    Don't read what isn't there.

    anywhichway

  7. The Drawing Room   -   #7
    j2k4's Avatar en(un)lightened
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    Here's an interesting link for election news and on-the-ground accounts:

    http://www.friendsofdemocracy.info/
    “Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize that half of 'em are stupider than that.” -George Carlin

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