The interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted that Iraq's looming elections would put an end to the country's bloody violence. Speaking on BBC television, Allawi added that every Iraqi should have the right to be part of his country's new political process, after Al-Qaeda's frontman in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, declared war on next Sunday's polls which he said were aimed at bringing the country under Shiite control. "We believe the elections themselves will help in putting an end to violence by fighting terrorists," Allawi told the BBC. (AFP via TurkishPress.com)
Iraq’s most feared terror chief declared a “fierce war” on democracy in a new audio recording posted on the internet today, as insurgents attacked another polling station to be used in next weekend’s landmark elections. In the latest audio recording purportedly from the leader of Iraq’s al-Qaida affiliate, a speaker identifying himself as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called candidates running in the elections “demi-idols” and said those who vote for them ”are infidels.” “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology,” the speaker said. [...] (scotsman.com)
ABC News details its planned coverage of the elections.
ABC News online: Expat Iraqis wary of elections.
Boston Globe: Iraq campaign season becomes a test of faith. As Iraq's campaign season winds into its final week, voters will have to make their choices in a fog of limited information. [...] Eternal damnation has emerged as a central campaign tactic in the run-up to the election next Sunday, with Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims hearing opposing but equally stark messages emanating from the capital's minarets: You will be damned if you vote, damned if you don't. [...] Just over half of Iraqis polled even know when election day is, according to the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit group. The same poll suggested that 46 percent of Iraqis believe that no political party represents them and that only two-thirds plan to vote. [...]
A split Iraq awaits election. Shiites, Sunnis remain divided. Hejaz Hazim, a computer engineer who could not find a job in computers and now cleans clothes, slammed his iron into a dress shirt the other day and let off a burst of steam about the coming election. "This election is bogus," Hazim said. "There is no drinking water in this city. There is no security. Why should I vote?" Across town in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, a grocer called Abu Allah stood behind his pyramids of fruit and said that no matter what, he was going to the polls. [...] (New York Times via The Arizona Republic)
Iraq's election security challenge. Iraq's election planners have been forced to second guess the militants they fear are planning bloody attacks during the country's impending vote. They insist the poll will go ahead throughout Iraq, as planned, on 30 January - albeit amid extreme security measures. (BBC News)
Paul McGeough: Storm clouds gather for Iraq's ill-omened election. The celebration of Eid al-Adha sparks a palpable excitement in the Arab world, but at the weekend all the joy and celebration came to a jarring halt at the borders of benighted Iraq. [...]
Iraq poll tension builds. Tension, as much as anticipation, marks the run-up to Iraq's first democratic elections on Sunday, with political contenders making their last-minute pitches and insurgents pressing their violent campaign of intimidation. Iraq's interim Government announced further tough restrictions on all movement during the poll weekend, shutting Baghdad international airport to all traffic and imposing a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew across the country for the election period. But their efforts to ensure tight security on voting day were mocked by the explosion of a roadside bomb yesterday on Baghdad's key airport highway, the most dangerous stretch of road in the country, within sight of the highly fortified governmental Green Zone. The explosion killed one Iraqi and wounded another two, official sources said. Meanwhile, conflicting reports suggested that master-terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had either been apprehended by US and Iraqi forces or had been outside the country for several months, directing the insurgency from afar. (The Australian via News.com.au)