Thursday, December 15, 2005
Turnout Strong in Iraqi Elections
By Ellen Knickmeyer and Jonathan Finer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, December 15, 2005; 3:30 PM
BAGHDAD, Dec. 15 -- Iraqi voters turned out in force countrywide Thursday to elect a parliament to remake their troubled nation, with Sunni-led Iraqi insurgent movements suspending attacks for a day so that Sunni Arabs could vote en masse for the first time.
The voting appeared to split along sectarian lines as expected, with many Sunni voters in the Sunni-dominated far west saying they were voting for Sunni candidates. Long lines were reported among Sunnis, most of whom boycotted elections earlier this year or were frightened away by threats.
The outcome of Thursday's vote, which won't be known for several days, is crucial. Voters will seat the country's first full-term, four-year government since U.S. troops overthrew Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Biden stressed Thursday's vote was not the end game for the 150,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, saying the U.S. military would likely need to play a lead role in Iraqi security until Iraqi leaders manage to come up with a representative constitution if they can. Otherwise, "The question is whether we traded dictatorship for chaos," Biden said.
GOI: Excellent point Sen. Biden.
On election day, polling sites were protected by Iraqi police, while Marines withdrew to provide to a perimeter no closer than 100 yards away. "The main thing I want is the Americans to get out. Maybe they can stay on their bases for a little while and out of the city, but before long they should leave Iraq," said Hakim Rashid, 30, who, along with his younger brother Ahmad voted for the Tawafaq slate, a Sunni religious coalition led by the Iraqi Islamic Party.
"Ballot boxes are a victory of democracy over dictatorship," Prime Minister Ibrahim al Jaafari told reporters as he cast his vote behind the blast walls of Baghdad's fortress-like Green Zone. "The real triumph is that people are casting ballots -- whoever they choose -- and that they've chosen voting over bombs."
GOI: Go-go gadget Iraqi's!!!
Yeyyyyy...I'm very excited to hear that there was a strong turn-out by the Sunni's this time.
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