BAGHDAD, Jan. 27 (Xinhuanet) -- The Iraqi elections
slated for Sunday are considered a test for all Iraqis, whether they will take
part in or boycott them.
In the past few weeks, fear has been running high in the war-battered country that the elections might turn out to be a "time bomb" that would trigger widespread strife as violence in the
run-up to the polls are soaring.
The elections will pose a grave test for the Iraqi
interim government, Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds as loyalists of the former Iraqi
president Saddam Hussein and armed Islamic extremists have threaten to spare no
effort to derail the voting, said analysts.
To fend off a tide of bloodshed on the election day, the
US forces, which have occupied Iraq since Saddam was toppled in April 2003, are
beefing up efforts in tightening security.
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage recently
announced that US forces would be reinforced to 173,000 personnel to guarantee
the smooth-going of the elections, considered by Washington as a crucial
beginning toward a "democratic" Iraq and potentially the first step toward
home for US troops.
Sunday's parliamentary elections will yield a 275-member
National Assembly, which will choose a transitional government and work out a
permanent constitution put for a national referendum by Oct. 15.
A new government and parliament will be elected
through another ballot by the end of this year under guidance of the
The Iraqi interim government headed by Prime Minister Ayad
Allawi has declared to close borders and the Baghdad International Airport from
Jan. 29 to 31 in a bid to curb violence.
Some 100,000 Iraqi policemen and National Guards are also
to be deployed around the voting centers against possible insurgent attacks and
no vehicle will be allowed to near the centers on theelection day in an effort
to foil car bombings.
However, it remains doubtful that the poorly-armed
and insufficiently-trained Iraqi security forces could shoulder the
responsibility of imposing law and order in a volatile situation embedded with
blasts, kidnappings and beheadings.
Meanwhile, there are strong voices for postponing the
elections while the interim government and Washington insist on going ahead on
The Association of Muslim Scholars, which was founded
last yearand becomes an influential religious reference for the Sunnis, has
called for boycotting the elections unless a timetable for the withdrawal of the
US occupation forces is announced.
The Islamic Party, another powerful Sunni group, also
decided to quit the elections citing deteriorating situation.
The call for boycotting the elections has raised
fears that Sunnis will be alienated in Iraq's new political order.
As for the Shiites who make up of about 60 percent of the
population and are poised to garner huge power through theelections, a high
turnout at the polls is anticipated although waves of violence have cast a pall
on the voting.
Iraq's revered Shiite cleric Great Ayatollah Ali
al-Sistani has urged Shiites to participate in the election, terming it as
The Shiite electoral list is considered the most
powerful among all the lists and expected to win the ballots in the southern
governorates which are traditionally Shiite strongholds.
The Kurds, who have announced a unified Kurdish list, deem
the elections as a step to have their own say in the parliament which is
responsible for writing the permanent constitution.
The Kurds, who have enjoyed de facto autonomy in northern
Iraqsince 1991, are looking forward to enshrining the self-ruling status in the
permanent constitution after the polls.
Attacks have dwindled during the past week although some
polling stations and police stations were hit. But the US military warned that
it is just calm before a storm and that the insurgents bent on sabotaging the
elections are saving up for spectacular scenarios.
However, Washington and the Iraqi interim government are
resolved to hold the elections on Sunday as scheduled.
The international conference on Iraq held in November 2004
at the Egyptian Red Sea resort Sharm el-Sheikh and the foreign ministers meeting
of Iraq's neighboring countries held earlier this month in Jordan also expressed
support for the Jan. 30 elections.Enditem