A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice


Saturday, October 15, 2005

Voting In Iraq

This is wonderful to see.

AP: Little Violence As Iraqis Vote on Charter---

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Sunni Arabs voted in surprisingly high numbers on Iraq's new constitution Saturday, many of them hoping to defeat it in an intense competition with Shiites and Kurds over the shape of the nation's young democracy after decades of dictatorship. With little violence, turnout was more than 66 percent in the three most crucial provinces.

The constitution still seemed likely to pass, as expected. But the large Sunni turnout made it possible that the vote would be close or even go the other way, and late Saturday it appeared at least two of a required three provinces might reject it by a wide margin.

Washington hopes the constitution will be approved so that Iraqis can form a legitimate, representative government, tame the insurgency and enable the 150,000 U.S. troops to begin to withdraw.

After polls opened at 7 a.m., whole families turned out at voting stations, with parents carrying young children, sometimes in holiday clothes. Men and women lined up by the hundreds in some places or kept up a constant traffic into heavily bunkered polls, dressed in their best in suits and ties or neatly pressed veils — or in shorts and flip-flops, weary from the day's Ramadan fast.

"I'm 75 years old. Everything is finished for me. But I'm going to vote because I want a good future for my children," Said Ahmad Fliha said after walking up a hill with the help of a relative and a soldier to a polling site in Haditha, a western Sunni town.

Some 9 million Iraqis cast ballots, election officials said, announcing a preliminary turnout estimate of 61 percent.

In Baghdad, men counted votes by lanterns because the electricity was out in parts of the city. Results were written on a chalkboard. Outside, Iraqi soldiers huddled in a courtyard, breaking their fast. Northeast of the capital, in Baqouba, men sat around long tables, putting "yes" votes in one pile and "no" votes in another.
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In the south, Shiite women in head-to-toe veils and men emerged from the poll stations flashing victory signs with fingers stained with violet ink, apparently responding in mass to the call by their top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to support the charter.

"Today, I came to vote because I am tired of terrorists, and I want the country to be safe again," said Zeinab Sahib, a 30-year-old mother of three, one of the first voters at a school in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Karrada in Baghdad.

Voters flowed constantly into a kindergarten used as a polling site in a Sunni Arab district of Mosul, Ninevah's capital.