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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 12/15/2005 7:09:45 AM EDT
Sunni turnout was higher than expected, too.

www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/12/15/iraq.elections/index.html

Iraqi polls extend hours as turnout high

'It's the beginning of our new life'



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Iraqis turned out in droves Thursday to elect their first full-term parliament since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.

Turnout was so heavy across the country that the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq gave provincial governments the discretion to keep polls open an hour past its 5 p.m. closing time. It was not clear where polling stations exercised this leeway.

Polling stations would close after the last person to arrive in line by 6 p.m. votes, IECI Commissioner Farid Ayar said.

Also streaming to the polls were Sunni Arabs, who had stayed away from the polls in previous elections only to find they barely had a voice in government.

The high turnout was remarkable, considering curfews, bulked-up security, border closings, road closures and traffic bans across the country. In some cases, voters had to take long walks to get to polls. Many were seen happily thrusting their purple ink-stained fingers at photographers -- the colored fingers a symbol of Iraq's free elections.

Scattered violence was also reported.

Nonetheless, one volunteer poll worker in Baquba deemed it "a special day."

"It's the beginning of our new life," said Buthana Mehdi, a schoolteacher. (Watch the interview with the poll worker -- 5:31)

The White House, under pressure from critics at home for its Iraq strategy, said it was encouraged by the large turnout Thursday.

"The Iraqi people are showing the world that all people of all backgrounds want to be able to choose their own leaders and live in freedom," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

About two-thirds of the 15 million registered voters, or 10 million, were expected to vote. Final results from the 33,000 polling stations around the country probably won't be available until the end of December at the earliest.

Expected to fare well are the ruling coalitions during the transitional period -- the Shiite-led United Iraqi Alliance and the Kurdish bloc.

U.S. and Iraqi officials are hopeful that greater Sunni participation in a post-Hussein government will quell the Sunni-dominated insurgency.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad said that Sunni Arab participation appears better than during the January election and the constitutional referendum in October.

He pointed to Falluja, a hotbed of the insurgency in the Sunni Arab heartland of Anbar province as an example. As of early afternoon there, he said, "Over 120,000 people had voted. So indications are very good with regard to the Sunnis."

The Washington Post's Jonathan Finer corroborated a large turnout in Falluja, saying many of the polling places there ran out of ballots and ballot boxes, and election workers were trying to replenish supplies.

A strong turnout was also reported in the Sunni Arab-dominated Salaheddin province, where Hussein's hometown of Tikrit is located, CNN's Christiane Amanpour said.

She also reported a high Sunni turnout in southern Baghdad, with people saying they made a mistake by shunning the January election and want their voices to be heard.

In Ramadi, CNN's Nic Robertson reported that local clerics used mosque sound systems, usually reserved for calls to prayer, to urge people to vote.

Local Sunni militias were also providing security at the 23 area polling stations, because the police force remains inadequate.

A celebratory atmosphere took hold in some locations. In the eastern Ramadi neighborhood of Sufiya, candy was being handed out, as people came to vote.

Khalilzad said that people arrived to polls with families "almost like going to a wedding."

He noted that the success in integrating the Sunni Arab community into the political process was a factor that would contribute to the start of a pullout of U.S. forces after the elections.
Tight security, minor violence

The U.S. military said that voters faced a three-stage inspection system before entering polling sites. "No one with bags, cell phones or packages will be allowed to enter as citizens cast their historic vote," the U.S. military said.

The U.S. military said two 127 mm rockets were fired in central Baghdad Thursday morning, one of them landing behind a polling station. Three people were wounded.

At four different Sadr City polling stations, three armed terrorists were blamed for harassing voters, election officials said.

To the northeast, just south of Baquba, 12 roadside bombs were discovered, two of them detonating. One killed a civilian. North of the city, the controlled detonation of a roadside bomb wounded two civilians. The military reported that a Baquba polling station that was attacked overnight remained open.

A bomb killed a Marine in Ramadi on election eve, the Marines said. The Marine was assigned to the 2nd Marine Logistics Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The death brings the number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Iraq war to 2,152.
On the lookout

Ahead of the ballot, electoral officials said they were on the lookout for big and small election violations, such as illegal campaign practices, the distribution of fake ballots and voter intimidation.

Some political entities have violated campaign regulations, like campaigning after the Tuesday deadline and erecting posters too close to polling sites, said Abdul Hussein al-Hindawi of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq.

However, he expressed confidence that virtually all of the election workers will be fair. He said many election observers were on hand.

Safwat Rashid Sidai, a member of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, said at a news conference he would investigate reports that a number of voting stations failed to open in Yusufiya, southwest of Baghdad.
'An historic day'

The parliament is called the Council of Representatives.

More than 19 political coalitions are running, along with 307 political entities -- either independent parties or individual candidates for the 275 seats.

On election eve Wednesday, Iraqi transitional President Jalal Talabani called on his nation to make election day "a national celebration and an historic day for national unity and a victory over terrorism."

CNN's Kevin Flower, Aneesh Raman, Arwa Damon, Joe Sterling and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:11:55 AM EDT
Well well well, the dire predictions by democrats have failed to happen for a third time.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:49:28 AM EDT
'Day of victory'

news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4531904.stm

'High turnout' in Iraqi election

Iraqis have voted in large numbers for their first full-term government since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Voting was extended by an hour in some areas because of the high turnout, Iraq's election commission said.

Sunni Arabs, who boycotted the last election in January, appear to have participated in large numbers, even in insurgent strongholds.

Despite tight security, several incidents of violence were reported, but voting was not seriously disrupted.

About 150,000 Iraqi soldiers and police officers were on patrol across the country, backed up by US soldiers. Borders and airports were closed.


IRAQ ELECTION FACTS
275-seat National Assembly will have four-year term
18 provinces are taken as separate constituencies
230 seats allocated according to size of population
45 seats distributed to parties whose ethnic, religious or political support is spread over more than one province
Some 15 million eligible to vote
One third of candidates in each party must be women



Turnout is reported to have quickened throughout the day, with people queuing to cast their ballots.

That was the case even in the predominantly Sunni cities of Falluja and Ramadi, hotbeds of insurgent activity. At one stage, an election official in Falluja said that so many people were voting, they had run out of ballot papers.

Sunni nationalist insurgent groups had urged people to vote, in order to prevent the election of a government completely dominated by Shias and Kurds.

However, the al-Qaeda in Iraq group denounced the election as the work of Satan and threatened attacks.

It is believed to have been behind an explosion in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings, shortly after the polls opened. Two civilians and a US marine were slightly injured.

'Day of victory'

Some 15 million Iraqis were eligible to vote.

Most had to walk to polling stations as movement of vehicles was banned to prevent car bomb attacks.

"It's a day of victory, a day of independence and freedom," said 60-year-old Shia Muslim Mohammed Ahmed al-Bayati as he voted in Baghdad.

Teacher Khalid Fawaz in Falluja said he was voting "so that the Sunnis are no longer marginalised".

Crowds turned out in Basra, the largest city in the Shia-dominated south, as well as the holy city of Najaf, dancing and chanting support for the alliance of religious Shia parties which is expected to win the largest number of seats.


It is a moral victory for the exploited Iraqis and a big victory for human liberty
Debu, New Delhi, India



BBC World Affairs Editor John Simpson in Baghdad says the voters he spoke to believe the election will help to bring about a strong, effective government of the kind Iraqis are desperate for.

He says people also think it will bring Sunnis into government in some strength, and that it will get rid of the Americans and British, whose military presence is widely disliked.

But he adds that Iraqi politicians are well aware that this positive feeling will evaporate if it takes them as long to form a coalition government as it did after the January election.

The new national assembly will replace the transitional government elected in January, and will serve a full four-year term.

Some 6,655 candidates, 307 parties and 19 coalitions registered for the ballot, electoral officials say.

Official results are not expected until late December at the earliest.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/middle_east/4531904.stm

Published: 2005/12/15 16:16:18 GMT

© BBC MMV
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:51:50 AM EDT
Bush's fault. Really, it is!!
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:52:28 AM EDT

Originally Posted By gus:
Bush's fault. Really, it is!!



I'm with you on this one.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:54:50 AM EDT
Good for the Iraqi's. Their children deserve a fair chance at life free from tyranny.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:58:40 AM EDT
The Dems/liberals and news media are strangely quiet, I wonder what's up? The news media has switched gears and are just reporting the news at the moment, without their usual spin on things.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 7:59:58 AM EDT
Now....what's gonna happen with the losing side, the Sunni's for example, if and when they lose, it's my opinion that they're just gonna go jihad again. This is a really tricky situation, I wouldn't want to be making the decisions...that's fo sho!
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:01:23 AM EDT
Loved the little ole Iraqi lady holding up her purple finger while thanking America and Bush for their freedom and the rest can "Go to Hell".
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:02:39 AM EDT
The blessings of democracy are now being enjoyed by the Iraqi people. Wahabi Islam Insurgents, eat s*** and die.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:02:47 AM EDT
Could it be? The DemoRats were WRONG?!? AGAIN!
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:03:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Nephilim:
Now....what's gonna happen with the losing side, the Sunni's for example, if and when they lose, it's my opinion that they're just gonna go jihad again. This is a really tricky situation, I wouldn't want to be making the decisions...that's fo sho!



If it were me making the decisions, anyone going "jihad" would die. Isn't that kind of the approach they're already taking?
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:06:22 AM EDT
Should be fun to listen to the downplaying, backpeddeling, and minimizing that will be going on with the Dems today.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:08:21 AM EDT
Have they showed any Iraqi's holding up Thank You Bush and Thank You USA signs yet?
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:18:36 AM EDT
Only 60.7% of US voters turned out for the 04 Prez elections. If >66% of estimated Iraqi voters turned out, it would be apparent that they value voiced their appreciation of democracy more than we did.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:40:11 AM EDT
The Democraps are just jealous that their constituents have to be bus'ed to the polls while Iraqis will walk through a desert climate, facing car bombs and terrorist snipers, in order to vote. And it's all because of President GW Bush's leadership.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:40:42 AM EDT
Sweet. I was there for the first one, and the locals were really whooping it up.
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 8:59:11 AM EDT

Originally Posted By AtLarge:
Loved the little ole Iraqi lady holding up her purple finger while thanking America and Bush for their freedom and the rest can "Go to Hell".



That was here in the States. I loved the clip!
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 9:02:37 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Grunteled:
Should be fun to listen to the downplaying, backpeddeling, and minimizing that will be going on with the Dems today.



I doubt we'll hear a peep from them. Wonder why?
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 10:01:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By wingnutx:
Sweet. I was there for the first one, and the locals were really whooping it up.



Heh.. Mosul was a three-day long city-wide street football game.

NTM
Link Posted: 12/15/2005 10:10:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Older_Crow:

Originally Posted By AtLarge:
Loved the little ole Iraqi lady holding up her purple finger while thanking America and Bush for their freedom and the rest can "Go to Hell".



That was here in the States. I loved the clip!



On Laura Ingraham's show, a phone-in caller said that his daughters went to high school this morning with one finger dipped in blue ink.

Man, talk about a conversation-starter in Civics class!
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