Sunday, January 30, 2005

Election Day!

In Iraq, and what an historic day.

Chrenkoff has a fantastic round-up which will likely continue over the next several days (the election results are not officially announced for another 10 days).

Here are some observations plucked from his update:

10.05pm Brisbane time: and 3.05pm Baghdad time - not too long to go. The latest reports put the death toll at 28. There have been several suicide bombings (on foot, as cars are banned in vicinity of polling stations) and some mortar attacks - but overall, far from the bloodiest day of recent times (and far cry from Al Zarqawi's threats to make the streets run red with the blood of voters). Level of violence doesn't seem at the first glance to be significantly bigger than average.

Nice quote:
"Asked if reports of better-than-expected turnout in areas where Sunni and Shiite Muslims live together indicated that a Sunni cleric boycott effort had failed, one of the main groups pushing the boycott seemed subdued.

" 'The association’s call for a boycott of the election was not a fatwa (religious edict), but only a statement,' said Association of Muslim Scholars spokesman Omar Ragheb. 'It was never a question of something religiously prohibited or permitted. We never sought to force anyone to boycott'."

Let the spin begin.

Two thumbs up to some BBC coverage, and one to Reuters:

7.35pm: BBC correspondents report blog-style from around the country. Ben Brown from Basra: "Turnout here has been extraordinary. We've been to a few polling stations in the city centre and we've seen huge queues of men and women who were searched separately. Some have had to wait for an hour before casting their ballot." Geez, sounds like the '04 election all over again.

7.15pm: Reuters: "Some smile, some are stoic and others keep their faces hidden as Iraqis trickle to the polls, braving anti-U.S. insurgents determined to drown the historic vote in blood." Hey, the insurgents are trying to bomb Iraqi polling stations and kill Iraqis who want to vote - how about starting to call them anti-Iraqi insurgents? The rest of the article is pretty positive though.

Indeed (I'll post separately on the terrorist vs insurgent Orwellian anti-US spin).