News / Middle East

Iraqis Vote Amidst Violence

Iraq's Vote in First Poll Since US Withdrawali
X
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs