Monday, January 31, 2005

British Press on the Iraqi Elections

BBC News
Iraq poll 'a victory over terror'
Iraqis queued to vote in the former rebel stronghold of Falluja
Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi has hailed Sunday's election as a "victory over terrorism".
He spoke as the UN's senior election official said turnout in Sunni areas - where the insurgency has been strongest - was higher than expected.

However he stressed that voting among Sunnis, whose participation in the poll is seen as key to the success of the new government, was nonetheless low.

The Guardian
Allawi issues call for unity
Ayad Allawi, the Iraqi prime minister, called on the Iraqi people today to set aside their differences and work together towards peace.
In his first public statement since polls closed in his country's first democratic election for 50 years, Mr Allawi said Iraqis should now put aside differences "planted by the former regime".

Millions of Iraqis defied a surge of bombings and suicide attacks to vote yesterday in greater than expected numbers in the poll. The Iraqi electoral commission made a provisional estimate of eight million voters, or a turnout of 57% of the registered total.

Analysis: 'Iraqis have rediscovered their sense of self'
James Hider, Times correspondent in Baghdad, says that the elections have had a powerful and positive impact on Iraq

"For the first time Iraqis seem to have a real sense of self and identity. They are waving their inked fingers in the air and people are far more willing to talk on the record to journalists. They are not at home cowering anymore, they feel they can stand up and do something for themselves.

Update: Much of the British press is understandably focused on the crash of a British Hercules transport, which killed at least 10 British troops. Insurgents are now claiming to have shot the plane down with an anti-tank missile.