Iraqi Elections See High Turnout, Escalating Violence

Politics | January 30, 2005, Sunday // 00:00| Views: | Comments: 0
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Iraqi Elections See High Turnout, Escalating Violence An Iraqi election official said Sunday that 72% of the eligible Iraqi voters had turned out so far nationwide.Iraqi officials had predicted that up to eight million of 14 million eligible voters - just over 57% will turn out for the election. Photo by bTV

The first multi-party election in Iraq for 50 years has been declared a success as polls officially closed on Sunday.

The electoral commission claimed a high turnout of over 72% and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the country had taken a "huge step forward". After the voting, President Bush said the balloting was a "resounding success" and praised Iraqis who "have taken rightful control of their country's destiny."

Blasts in Baghdad - some apparently claimed by militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - killed at least 25.

In the Shia Muslim south and Kurdish north of the country, lines formed at polling stations and there were smiles and tears among voters. But polling stations in many Sunni-dominated cities in the centre of Iraq were closed or deserted, as voters stayed away out of fear of attack or opposition to the poll.

Iraqi officials had predicted that up to eight million of 14 million eligible voters - just over 57%- will turn out for Sunday's election to choose a National Assembly and governing councils in the 18 provinces.

More than 200 parties and coalitions are competing for seats in the transitional assembly, which will draft a new Iraqi constitution ahead of planned elections for a full-term parliament.
MORE About Iraq's Elections READ in For the Record Section

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