Skip to comments.High turnout in Iraq’s day of voting
Posted on 10/15/2005 12:07:24 PM PDT by freedom44
BAGHDAD - Iraqs deeply divided Shias, Sunnis and Kurds voted under heavy guard on Saturday to decide the fate of a new constitution aimed at establishing democracy after more than two decades of Saddam Husseins repressive rule.
A day that US and Iraqi leaders feared could turn bloody turned out to be the most peaceful in months.
Insurgents attacked five of Baghdads 1,200 polling stations with shootings and bombs, wounding seven voters. But the only deaths were those of three Iraqi soldiers in a roadside bomb far from a polling site, and there were no major attacks reported as US and Iraqi forces clamped down with major security measures around balloting sites.
The United States hopes the constitution will be approved so Iraqis can form a permanent, representative government and secure the country so Washington can start withdrawing its 150,000 troops.
In the south, Shia women in head-to-toe veils and men emerged from the poll stations flashing victory signs with fingers stained with purple ink, apparently responding in mass to the call by their top cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani, to support the charter.
Once the constitution is stable, the country will be stable, Rajaa Mohammed Abbas, a 35-year-old Shia woman, said after voting yes in the southern city of Karbala, where crowds of people marched after casting ballots, chanting yes, yes to the constitution.
But in Sunni areas in Baghdad and several key heavily Sunni provinces, a surprisingly high turnout in some areas seemed to consist largely of Iraqis voting no because of fears the new constitution would mean setting in stone the Shia domination they fear.
The Sunni Arab turnout was a dramatic change from January parliamentary election, which most Sunnis boycotted. Now they were eager to cast ballots, which could make the race tighter than expected.
This is all wrong. I said no to a constitution written by the Americans, said Jilan Shaker, 22, a laborer who showed up at a polling station in Baghdads Azamiyah district polling station in shorts and plastic sandals.
In the crucial northern city of Mosul, there was a constant flow of voters all day long into a kindergarten in a Sunni Arab neighborhood: men and women, dressed at their best in suits and ties or neatly pressed veils, many carrying young children in holiday clothes.
A top UN official told The Associated Press that turnout was very high in the predominantly Shia Muslim south but low in the mostly Sunni Arab western province of Anbar, where insurgents are active. Carina Perelli, director of the Electoral Assistance Division of the United Nations, also said voter turnout was very steady in many other mostly Sunni regions.
Voters at the countrys 6,100 polling stations marked their paper ballot yes or no under one question, written in Arabic and Kurdish: Do you agree on the permanent constitution project? After placing the ballots in the plastic boxes, the Iraqis had the forefinger of their right hands marked with violet ink.
A few Sunni leaders called for a yes vote after last-minute changes were made in the draft, but most urged their voters to oppose.
When polls closed at 5 p.m., celebratory gunfire was heard in Baghdad. Families handed out sweets to passers-by in the street ahead of the end of the days Ramadan fast about an hour later.
Vote counting began immediately. In Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, a handful of men sat around long tables with lanterns, putting yes votes in one pile and no votes in another.
Baqouba turnout is key because the city is in a province that is majority Sunni but has sizable Shia and Kurdish communities.
There are four provinces where Sunni Arab opponents are hoping to make that threshold: Anbar, Ninevah, Salahuddin and Diyala, all with Sunni majorities. But all of those except Anbar also have significant Shia and Kurdish populations mixed in who the opponents must outweigh to reach two-thirds.
So competition was at its fiercest in those areas, with all sides drumming out voters.
The government cant just sew together an outfit and dress the people up by force. We do not see ourselves or see our future in this draft, said Gazwan Abdul Sattar, 27-year-old Sunni teacher in Mosul after voting no in Nivevahs capital, Mosul.
But in a nearby mostly Kurdish neighborhood of the city, Bahar Saleh gave her support to the constitution. This constitution will at last give the Kurds their lost rights, the 34-year-old housewife said, coming from the polls with the red-and-green Kurdish flag wrapped around her body.
In Salahuddin province, just north of Baghdad, turnout may have been as high as 75 percent, local election officials said. In the Sunni Arab town of Tikrit - Saddams birthplace, hundreds rushed to the polls in the last minute to make the closing of polls and get home in time for the breaking of the fast.
But turnout also appeared high in mainly Shia towns and districts elsewhere in the province.
In Baghdad, American troops in Humvees rattled down Baghdad streets in patrols, while Iraqi soldiers and police ringed polling stations at schools and other public buildings protected by concrete barriers and barbed wire. Iraqi soldiers armed with heavy machine guns looked over polling sites from nearby rooftops. US troops in tanks and armored vehicles stood not far away as helicopters hovered overhead. Driving was banned to stop suicide car bombings by Sunni-led insurgents determined to wreck the vote.
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 Shia neighborhood of Karrada in Baghdad. This constitution means unity and hope.
The lack of adequate and accurate coverage of this amazing story is even more confirmation that the MSM has no respect for..........no make that, hates..........our troops.
Your comment brings to mind a young man I met yesterday just home from basic training. He was at my house helping his father do a job for me. He was so atypical of our young people who are serving our country - clear-eyed and determined. I think he knew I wanted to hug his neck. :o) How can our own MSM overlook these youngsters in their zeal to bring down our government? Special place in hell for them.
Have you listened to Il Divo yet? Four young tenors that Simon got together from the States, Spain, and couple other countries and their music is well, music to my ears. Different from what I usually listen to.
I agree. A special place is reserved for them.........
I heard a group from Australia called the Ten Tenors, though, and I was blown away. All young, good looking guys with powerful operatic tenor voices. Wow!
LOLOL!! It's funny because it's true!
"This is all wrong. I said no to a constitution written by the Americans, said Jilan Shaker, 22, a laborer who showed up at a polling station in Baghdads Azamiyah district polling station in shorts and plastic sandals"
Of course they had to find one jibjab that was against Americans. Wonder who gave him his clothes? Prolly us nasty 'merikans.
A word about over-used catch phrases...
They're Bush's fault!
Don't know how that one slipped by the editors.
Good stats, but let me help you with the term "casualties."
Casualties means wounded or killed or otherwise put out of action.
Casualties does not mean "list of only those killed."
The numbers that you are quoting are for *fatalities*.
Now you know more than the news media...as the news media is staffed by people who can't comprehend the difference between a "fatality" from that of a "casualty."
That being said, your list of fatalities shows that the terroristic insurgents are losing their ability to project power.
The only time CNN showed any interest in the historic Iraqi vote was when there was gunfire heard at the close of the polls. They finally concluded, after much speculation, that it was probably 'celebatory'.
Overall, they seemed 'deeply saddened' that there wasn't more violence.
Of course the Sunday AM talk shows will be chattering over Toledo, the prospect of a Rove indictment (they hope) and how Bush's poll numbers keep dropping!
"Where was Jimmy Carter?"
Jimmy only covers elections he supports, such as the recent one in Venezuela. That one got a clean bill of health by the way.
"Just pointing that out since the media hasn't bothered to figure it out or report it. "
"After all, without sadness and despair where would the Dem's place their focus?"
Actually, for the Democrats, today's vote is an occasion for sadness and despair.
If we really do win in Iraq, they will never quite get over it. Nor will the worldwide organized hard left (WOHL) ever stop trying to undermine Iraqi democracy.
If we succeed in Iraq, Iraq will take a permanent place next to Israel as one of the most hated regimes in the world, unless and until they can topple democracy and replace it with some murderous, torturing dictator.
Because every year of the existence of Iraqi democracy is one more year of blatant proof to the Arab street that everything they have been led to believe is one big Lie. The message will also go out to all the rest of the people in the world. Having a democratic Iraq is like having a 1000-foot tall replica of the Statue of Liberty in the center of the Middle East.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.