Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed speculation that the Iraqi elections "won't happen" or will be delayed beyond Jan. 30 during an inaugural ball here Jan. 20 honoring troops wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. (US Dept. of Defense)
Associated Press gives a just-the-numbers rundown on Iraq's elections.
In many parts of Iraq, where Sunni insurgents post warnings against participating in elections and threaten to hit polling stations with car bombs, the choice facing citizens is whether to vote at all. But in the relatively safe Shia south, the main question is not whether to vote, but how: must a good Shia vote for the “clerics' list” or can pragmatism can justify other choices? (Financial Times)
For almost a week, nearly half of Baghdad has been without water, thanks to what the government says is an insurgent attack on one of its water mains. Coming at the height of campaigning for January 30 parliamentary elections, the crisis has fed cynicism and reduced confidence in the administration of Iyad Allawi, Iraq's prime minister. The water crisis, which US sources say has cut supplies by 30 to 40 per cent and left neighbourhoods in the south and west of the city entirely dry, comes on top of an acute petrol shortage that has forced motorists to queue for up to 12 hours, as well as chronic power cuts. (Financial Times)
A Southern Baptist chaplain stationed in Iraq has requested special prayer for U.S. troops involved in the historic democratic elections scheduled Jan. 30 in that country. "Our troops will be delivering the voting machines and ballots to villages and cities throughout Iraq and are prime targets for the insurgents. Encourage your friends and family members and those within our churches to pray specifically for our soldiers and the electoral process," Capt. Lyle Schackelford asked in an e-mail to friends and family members. (BP News)
Press release: Public attitudes toward the upcoming elections in Iraq are decidedly mixed, according to a new Harris Poll. Only a third (34%) of the U.S. public believes the situation in Iraq will improve after the elections, and less than a third (28%) believes that the elections will lead to a reasonably free and democratic system of government. Less than a quarter (24%) of the public thinks that Iraq will be a model which will help spread freedom and democracy in the Middle East. And less than one in five believes that the elections will enable most U.S. troops to leave Iraq in the next year (18%), or that there will be a reduction in the number of attacks on U.S. troops there (17%).
Amir Taheri: Iraq Election: Wider Significance. Talk to Iraqis on any subject these days and you are likely to hear one word: ba’ad! This is short for the phrase “ba’ad al-intikhabat” which means “after the elections.” Weddings are postponed until after the elections, as are business contracts, poetry recitals, the opening of new plays, the start of the football season, and, of course, the rebuilding of towns and villages wrecked by months of insurgency. Also put on hold are big projects financed by the $18 billion US aid package and more than $6 billion pledged by Europe, Japan and the Arab states. [...] (Arab News)
Today, we visited the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, Duhok Governorate Bureau and met with manager Mr. Bayar Tahir Duski. He was very busy during our Q and A session which was interrupted many times because he was working intensively and other queries during this interview. (Friends of Democracy)