Iraqis vote actively despite attacks

09:19, March 08, 2010      

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Iraq's national parliamentary election started on the early morning of March 7 as sounds of strings of bombings waked Baghdad.


An Iraqi woman gets her finger inked at a polling station in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on March 7, 2010. Iraqis went to polls on Sunday for the parliamentary election. This is the second national poll since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from U.S.-led invasion in 2003.(Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

Dozens of mortar rounds and rockets hit Baghdad's neighborhoods, especially the Green Zone, since early in the day when polling centers were open for voters to cast ballots for the elections.

The security has been tightened up and a ban on vehicles was imposed on the polling day, Xinhua correspondents had to walk half an hour from their residential Al-Mansour Hotel to the heavily- protected Green Zone, where the top officials and political elites will cast their votes in the so-called No.1 polling station in Rasheed Hotel and receive media interviews.

Hundreds of armed Iraqi security forces members in various uniforms which indicate they belong to different troops, were deployed in streets along the way to the Green Zone. Earlier, after some insurgent groups aired warnings against the election and threatened to wreck the event, spokesman of the Baghdad Operation Command Qassim Atta said the Iraqi security forces have beefed up security for polling stations in Baghdad.

The quiet morning was soon broken as a spate of mortar barrages and rockets struck different areas of the city, while we were still on our way. The half-hour walking to the Green Zone was not easy, as we were stopped every 30 meters by security checkpoints for ID.


An Iraqi woman votes at a polling station in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on March 7, 2010. Iraqis went to polls on Sunday for the parliamentary election. This is the second national poll since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from U.S.-led invasion in 2003.(Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

At least three sounds of blast were heard within our 500 meters walk.

The security members were extremely nervous as this is the most crucial day which was already overshadowed by threats and pre- election attacks, when we pointed our camera at them and wanted to take pictures, one of the officers swore to shoot us if we shoot him.

Through a series of prolonged and meticulous checks, we entered the Green Zone amid sounds of blast from every direction.

Primer Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, Minister of Oil, Hussein Al- Shahristani and some influential tribe leaders cast their ballots and received media interviews in Rasheed Hotel.


Iraqi voters enter a polling station in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on March 7, 2010. Iraqis went to polls on Sunday for the parliamentary election. This is the second national poll since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from U.S.-led invasion in 2003.(Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

After an interview with Mr. Maliki, we left the Green Zone for another polling center that opened to ordinary citizens. Dozens of Iraqi people lined up waiting for the security check.

A staff in the polling center named Hani introduced to Xinhua the process of polling. He said that four hours after the voting started, 20 percent of the registered 450 voters had already voted, and he expected a final turnout at around 70 percent.

A woman who brought her two little daughters to the polling station told Xinhua, "These bombings are just like kid's tricks, they want to make us stay at home, it's impossible. In the past we suffered from no electricity, no gas and violence, this time I have to change all these with my family, this is a chance to change history, I don't want to miss it."


An Iraqi woman checks the candidates' list at a polling station in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on March 7, 2010. Iraqis went to polls on Sunday for the parliamentary election. This is the second national poll since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from U.S.-led invasion in 2003.(Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

According to the arrangement, international observers presented at the polling stations to prevent any frauds during the electoral processes.

"This parliamentary election is considered quite transparent compared to the previous one, and it is a successful one that incarnates democracy. Though the attacks didn't ever stop from Sunday morning till noon," William Morris, an U.S. observer told Xinhua, adding he expected a high turnout.

Two days ahead of the election, Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq imposed a "curfew" on the election day and threatened in a statement that who ever goes to poll will be killed.

The Islamic State of Iraq which repeatedly threatened to sabotage Sunday's poll already claimed responsibility for previous pre-election attacks that have caused hundreds of casualties in Iraq.


An Iraqi man receives security check at the entry of a polling station in Baghdad, capital of Iraq, on March 7, 2010. Iraqis went to polls on Sunday for the parliamentary election. This is the second national poll since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime from U.S.-led invasion in 2003.(Xinhua/Zhang Ning)

The death toll of bomb attacks in Baghdad on Sunday, rose to 37 and 62 people were wounded, as Iraqis voted for the election, an Interior Ministry source said.

But there were many Iraqi people showing their inked blue fingers with smiles on their faces as sounds of blast echoing around.

No matter who will lead the next Iraqi government, and how the political landscape will be changed, Iraqi people have made up their minds to build a brighter future for themselves.

Source: Xinhua
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