News / Middle East

Iraqis Vote Amidst Violence

Iraq's Vote in First Poll Since US Withdrawali
April 30, 2014 6:11 PM
Violence marred election day in Iraq Wednesday, with at least two people killed as voters took part in parliamentary elections. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from our Middle East Bureau in Cairo.
Related video report by Elizabeth Arrott
Edward Yeranian
Ballot counting began immediately at polling stations across Iraq after voting ended Wednesday. Electoral officials say more than 50 percent of registered voters turned out, despite a series of election day attacks that left at least 12 dead.  

The head of the polling station in Baghdad's Karrada district describes the process of sorting and counting ballots. Electronic equipment to scan registered voters shut down automatically at the same moment at polling stations across the country.

Observers from the Arab League and the European Union were present in most polling stations, along with observers from local non-governmental organizations. It was the first parliamentary election in Iraq since 2010, and the first since U.S. troops withdrew in December 2011.

Despite sectarian violence and tensions between Iraq's Sunni and Shi'ite communities, voting took place normally in most parts of the country except predominantly Sunni Anbar province, parts of which are under control of Sunni insurgents.

A European Union monitor describing voting for Iraqi state TV says things were peaceful and everything went normally. He points out that it was the first time electronic scanners were used and that an electronic recount will take place Thursday in another first.

At many polling stations, more than 50 percent of the electorate turned out to vote, according to an electoral commission member in Babil Province.

He says voting was almost like a wedding festival. He says 42 percent of electors had voted by noon and over 55 percent had turned out by closing time.

Baghdad security chief Sa'ad Ma'an indicated earlier that voting was going smoothly in most places, despite a failed suicide bomb attack in Mosul. Five soldiers were wounded in another suicide attack and militants blew up a polling station north of Baghdad. Mortar rounds were also reported in numerous places.

In the days before the elections, bomb attacks and other violence claimed more than 65 lives.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who voted early in the day at Baghdad's Rasheed Hotel, had urged Iraqis to turn out in large numbers.

He says those who vote will have the right to criticize and ask for accountability, while those who do not throw away that right. He says that by voting, Iraqis can defeat terrorism and those who want the elections to be a failure.

Iraq's former national security adviser Dr. Mowaffak al Rubaie, who is a candidate in the prime minister's Shi'ite-led “State of Law” coalition, told VOA he is optimistic.

"I have already voted with the prime minister, Prime Minister Maliki, together, and we are very upbeat to be quite honest with you," he said. "I think we're going to break a record again ... of civilians going to polling stations with unprecedented percentage."
  • An elderly Iraqi woman shows her ink-stained finger after casting her vote, Baghdad, April 30, 2014. 
  • A member of Iraq's Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) stands guard in front of a polling station in Baghdad, April 30, 2014.
  • Security forces search people outside a polling station in Habaniyah, near Fallujah, April 30, 2014.
  • Iraqi policemen stand guard near a polling station, Baghdad, April 30, 2014.
  • A group of men gesture with their ink-stained fingers after casting their ballots in the Iraqi parliamentary election, Najaf, ,April 30, 2014.
  • An Iraqi policeman inspects the site of a suicide attack at a polling center in Kirkuk, April 28, 2014.
  • Passengers in a taxi wave PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) flags, the party of President Jalal Talabani, before the country's parliamentary elections, Sulaimaniya, April 28, 2014.
  • A woman hails a taxi while standing under Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) campaign flags before Iraq's parliamentary elections, Sulaimaniya, April 28, 2014.
  • A detainee shows his inked finger after casting a vote at the polling center inside a prison in Irbil, April 28, 2014.
  • Observers for election candidates and their parties monitor the voting process as prisoners cast their ballots inside al-Rusafa prison during early voting for the parliamentary election, in Baghdad, April 28, 2014.
  • Kurdish security personnel display their ink-stained fingers after casting their votes at a polling station during early voting for the parliamentary election, Arbil, April 28, 2014.
  • Iraqi security forces stand in line to vote outside a polling center, Baghdad, April 28, 2014.

Describing the electoral atmosphere in the capital as festive, Rubaie says, "I am proud of the Iraqi people. They are going in millions to the polling stations. They are parading towards the polling stations. They are very, very happy. Baghdad is all colorful, now, and I think they are going to cast their votes and they are going to vote overwhelmingly in support of [ Maliki's] "State of the Law” [coalition].”

No matter the outcome, Parliament Speaker Osama Nujeifi told Al Arabiya TV that his coalition had “no intention of forming any alliance” with Maliki, because of what he called “prior negative experiences with the prime minister.”

During the 2010 elections, Maliki's party won 89 seats in Iraq's 338 member parliament, while his main opponent, Iyad Allawi won 91. But Maliki formed the government after a series of electoral alliances in his favor.

You May Like

Photogallery Belgian Security Measures Foreshadow New Normal for Europe

Rising threat of terrorism, disaffected Muslim populations and open borders, along with refugee, migrant crisis, are creating perfect storm for Europe, which some analysts fear continent is ill-suited to weather

Competing Claims of Responsibility for Mali Hotel Attack

Malian authorities ask public for help in identifying gunmen killed in attack, amid conflicting claims of responsibility from multiple jihadist groups active in the country

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Hunt Richardson from: United States
May 01, 2014 12:31 AM
Bravo to the Iraqi voters. Even if they elect someone Westerners think is a bad guy, they braved terrorist attacks and death to exercise there right to choose their leader legitimately. the terrorists have nothing good to offer.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs