1 Feb 2009

Peaceful election held in Iraq

8:11 am on 1 February 2009

A peaceful election was held in Iraq on Saturday without a single major attack reported anywhere in the country.

Around 14,400 candidates were seeking 440 council seats in 14 of the 18 provinces. Provincial councils select regional governors.

Thousands of police and troops guarded the polling centres.

Almost 15 million people were registered to vote. Early results will be issued next week but the final outcome will take several weeks.

A previous election took place in 2005 amid a Sunni insurgency and was followed by a surge in sectarian slaughter between Sunnis and Shi'ite Muslims. Fewer than 2% voted in that election.

In a televised address after the polls closed, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said: "The purple fingers have returned to build Iraq."

He was referring to indelible ink stains on index fingers that show voters have cast their ballots. Earlier, he said it was a victory for all Iraqis.

The Defence Ministry says the election was "a great success, like a wedding."

In the only reported incidents, mortar rounds landed in Tikrit - the home town of former dictator Saddam Hussein - but no one was hurt.

Iraqi troops shot one person dead and wounded another after a quarrel in the Sadr City slum in Baghdad.

US forces killed two Iraqi police officers during a raid in Mosul before polls opened. The circumstances were not fully explained.

In addition, five candidates were assassinated in the run-up to the election - three were killed two days before the vote.


Some glitches were reported: thousands of people failed to find their names on voter registration lists and could not vote.

Three Kurdish provinces will vote separately, and the election was indefinitely postponed in the northern city of Kirkuk.