Iraqis are scheduled to vote January 30 to elect national assemblies. The official announcement was made following the successful military effort to oust insurgents from the Sunni Muslim city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.
Announcement of the national elections was made by Iraq's election commission. Voters will go to the polls January 30 to elect a 275-seat national assembly.
The assembly will draft a new constitution for Iraq and, later in the year, voters will return to the polls to decide whether to approve it. If approved, there will be a second general election to be held by the end of 2005.
News of the election date being set seemed to please many Iraqis who say they look forward to change. A 30-year-old mother, Khalood al-Zayadi, who works at an Iraqi newspaper says she is one of them.
"Everyone in Iraq want the election, to do it on time. And, we want those elections because maybe many things change. Maybe the government change. Maybe the leader of Iraq change. Maybe laws of Iraq will change. Many, many things will be changed," she said.
According to Iraqi merchant Mohammed Salam Yanni, January 30 will be the day Iraqis get to speak for themselves.
"We wish for it to be 30 of January. And, we will go to cooperate with our government and to do what we need, what we want to do, and what we wish," said Mr. Yanni.
Not all Iraqis are in favor of holding the elections in January. There are many Sunni Muslim Iraqis who say they plan to boycott the elections because of fear of violence in their communities, or to protest the U.S. presence in Iraq.
In that regard, U.S. and Iraqi troops continued their clean-up of the once-rebellious city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, as part of the effort to clear the way for Januarys elections.
Military officials in Iraq said nearly 1,500 people in the Fallujah area were detained during the almost two-week military offensive to rid the city of insurgents. Efforts are now focusing on maintaining peace in the city where the dominant population is Sunni Muslim.
A senior official with Iraq's Interior Ministry said the operation in Fallujah was, as he put it, "completely successful and all but over."
However, American and Iraqi troops have been forced to deal with trouble spots in other parts of the country, where insurgents have been waging battle, including Baghdad. Saturday a total of nine people were killed in a series of attacks throughout the city.