Sunday, February 01, 2009

Provincial elections in Iraq yesterday

January 29:

Provincial elections are on Saturday and candidates are dropping. Today three were killed. One in Mosul, another in Baghdad and one in Diyala province.

It's almost expected here. Two others were killed recently as well.

In the United States this would be big news. Here it's a line in the violence report of the day. Better then other days, a huge improvement over the frightening times of more than a year ago but yet still more bloodshed.

Leila Fadel, McClatchy News

Among those who did vote, the experience was sometimes inspiring and sometimes not:

"A long time ago we only dreamed to have something like this in our country. Not long ago we were deprived of a voice." -- Nawal Salam, 48. She and her family were displaced to the Shiite district of Kadhemiyah in Baghdad. Her brother was killed during the sectarian war. She voted for Maliki's party.

"I voted for the Fraternity of Nineveh (Kurdish slate) because it represents my race and we hope it would help us get our rights as Kurds. We want to live in peace like others." -- Leila Solaiman Mohammed, 45, a Kurdish housewife in Sheikhan a village in the northern fields of Nineveh province

"We came to the center with enthusiasm, but we didn't vote. We couldn't find our names. This is the third center we've gone to – and don't find our names. I don't want to lose my voice. I'm afraid that if I don't vote, my form will be used for me to vote for God knows whom." -- Umm Atheer, a Sunni Arab mother of two in Baghdad

Leila Fadel, McClatchy News

In a random sample of The New York Times's ... staff in Baghdad: 40 percent voted, 30 percent could not reach the right polling station; 14 percent could not find their names on the lists; 10 percent of them did not try to vote; 6 percent of them were uncontactable.

I had no problem voting. I didn't think I would find many people in my neighborhood taking part because it has been a very troubled one, with much violence. But many people turned out, and I saw no problems.

Suadad al-Salhy – South of Baghdad. FAMILY ALL VOTED, WITHOUT INCIDENT
I did not vote because I have not found anyone who represents me. My husband feels the same. My parents, brother and sister-in-law all voted, although they had to walk more than two miles to the polling center. It was the first one they went to, so they were lucky.

An Iraqi employee of The New York Times in Najaf. VOTED, WITH DIFFICULTY
After sunrise on Saturday I went on a tour in the main streets on Najaf, as part of my duties as a stringer for The New York Times newspaper. The security forces were all over the place, which gave a sense of security and safety. However, all did not go well. I had to go to more than three centers looking for my name and my wife's name. Finally I found them in a voting center two and a half miles away from where I live. Apparently, we were registered according to what our ration card said in 2005, which was that I lived with my family. Except that I transferred my ration card to another area a year and a half ago.

Riyadh Mohammed - Central Baghdad - DISPLACED. DID NOT REGISTER. I didn't register in advance, so I could not vote. The rest of my family were displaced from west Baghdad because of sectarian violence in 2006 and it would have been very complicated for them as displaced Iraqis to vote. None of them registered and none of them voted. They were all excited about election day, but it was too late.

New York Times' Iraqi journalists react

Meanwhile the Times reports that in the United States

...many Americans view the war as already over, even though more than 140,000 American soldiers remain on Iraqi soil.

President Obama has made it plain that Iraq is not his war; he wants to focus on Afghanistan.

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