BAGHDAD, Jan. 30 (Xinhuanet) -- Polling officially closed acrossIraq
at 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT) Sunday with a better than expected voter
turnout in the landmark elections, the Independent Electoral
Three hours before the closure of the vote, Adel al-Lami, a member of the commission, put the turnout rate at 72
However, electoral officials scaled down the figure at a news
briefing shortly after the poll, saying 72 percent was compiled based on "estimates"
and there were about 8 million Iraqis who might have voted, about 61
percent of eligible voters.
The turnout rate was subject to change since there were still
voters waiting in line who would be allowed to cast ballots, election
Vote count has begun at some 5,300 polling centers across the
country and a final result of the elections was expected in at least 10
GLIMPSE AT MAJOR CITIES ON ELECTION
Around 13 million Iraqis, about half of the population,registered to
vote in the elections, while some eligible voters did not
register due to insurgent intimidation or because they were boycotting the
Thousands of Iraqis filed in the seven stations around the
polling center in Kadhimiya, a Shiite-populated neighborhood in
An organizer told Xinhua the first group of voters were received
at 7:15 a.m. (0415 GMT), only 15 minutes after the poll opened, and
a "very good turnout" was expected by the end of the day.
At Mansour, another neighborhood in western Baghdad, the turnout
appeared brisk despite the deaths of four people when a suicide bomber
blew up his explosive-filled belt outside a polling center.
In Shiite-dominated Basra and Najaf, large flows of
voters couldbe seen.
Despite the enthusiasm showed by the Shiite Muslims, Sunni
towns witnesses voter apathy or even despise to the poll.
In Fallujah, a Sunni city retaken after an all-out assault
in last November, most residents shunned the poll, either out of fearfor
reprisal or conviction that the poll was a fake.
In former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit,
the turnout was relatively low when the voting neared the end.
The turnout was "very weak" during the first four hours
and remained no more than 20 percent with a couple of hours left beforethe
closing time, a source in the electoral commission told Xinhua.
In Samarra, another Sunni flashpoint city retaken from
insurgent hands last October, Taha Hussein, head of the city's local
council,said Iraqis in the city would shun the elections due to thesecurity
Also, no voters were seen heading to the voting stations in
cities of Haditha, Aana, Qaim and Ramadi, according to Xinhua
correspondents at the scenes.
RELENTLESS VIOLENCE TARGETING POLL,
In a latest attack, US operation centers in Baquba, some
65 km northeast of Baghdad, was attacked. There was no word on
Earlier, a bomb exploded targeting a car ferrying Sunni
Muslimsto polling stations south of Baghdad, killing at least three and
wounding several others, police said.
Schools taken for polling centers were targeted by mortars
in Baiji and Balad. A Katyusha rocket fell on a military base in Baladand
an oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Baiji was blown up.
A mortar struck a voting center in Baghdad's Shiite
slum of SadrCity Sunday, killing at least four voters.
A suicide car bomber hit a polling station in western
Baghdadshortly after the beginning of the poll, killing a policeman andwounding
two Iraqi soldiers and two civilians outside ZahraaSchool.
In Ramadi, fierce clashes erupted when insurgents
attacked theUS and Iraqi forces who called on the people of the city to head
topolling stations to vote.
The clashes also spread to several neighborhoods in northern,eastern
and western Ramadi, witnesses said. Three voting stationsin Qaim
near the Syrian border were also attacked.In Baquba, about 50 km northeast of
Baghdad, explosions were heard as voters went for the poll. To the south, a
bomb exploded ata polling station in central Basra.
Dozens of people have been killed in these attacks
and many morewounded.
Al-Qaida's representative in Iraq Abu Musab
al-Zarqawi, US topwanted militant in the country, claimed responsibility for
some ofthe attacks.
Iraq's elections, the first since the downfall of
Saddam Husseinin April 2003, kicked off at 7:00 a.m. (0400 GMT) on Sunday
tousher in a new course of the oil-rich but violence-shatteredcountry.
The 275-seat National Assembly will be formed by proportional representation of
votes with a one-year mandate. It will choose a transitional
government and draft a permanent constitution put for a national
referendum by Oct. 15.
A new government and parliament will then be elected through another
ballot by the end of this year under the guidance of the