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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 16:30 GMT
Iraq election log: 31 January 2005
The BBC News website's Iraq election log gathers a range of accounts from people inside Iraq about their day-to-day lives.

In our seventh instalment, one contributor in Basra reflects on how the election will affect life for his city's inhabitants, life remains quiet in the north and an Iraqi explains to his children what Sunday's events mean for the future.

You can bookmark this page and come back to read the latest posts each day.


NO-ONE MENTIONS WHO THEY VOTED FOR
Posted by Youssef Iraqi doctor, Basra, 31 January

Everyone was very happy about the voting and nothing serious happened overnight. Basra seemed quite calm. The curfew is still in place, only pedestrians are allowed on the streets -you can move around in your local area, but not between districts, and no cars are allowed.

So last night I didn't go out, I just called people I know in different parts of Basra to see how things went. Funnily enough, even among close friends no-one asked which party you voted for, it was almost as though it was a secret. People were almost embarrassed to talk about such a thing. Thinking about yesterday, it was something quite new to Iraqi people. I'm 45 years old and since I was a teenager we have never gone through such a democratic process.

This time, everyone was allowed to go and vote, you could tick whatever box you wanted to and people chose who they thought was the best for them. I believe in politics, but most people I know think it's like following a script written by someone else - the final outcome has been decided already.

This morning, one Arab television channel reported the loss of a few ballot boxes - well, the loss or theft.

I don't know whether to believe that, but the Americans and British didn't come here just to bring democracy and go home, after all the sacrifices they've made. They're not going to give it to just anyone who has been chosen by the people. But I don't really care. We want someone who will observe the law, and impose it. As long as he is Iraqi and believes in Iraq.

I hope Allawi wins but you can't tell. I think the foreign forces will find a way to make it happen. Other than him there is no other political personality who is up to the challenge.

As much as I hate the occupation, I welcome their presence for the next couple of years until we achieve real democracy. As soon as we are strong enough to take responsibility, they can go, although I don't think they'll go in the next five years, at least. If they leave in the next six months, Iraq will fall into civil war.

In Basra we have been through considerable agony. What we have nowadays is a piece of cake compared to what we suffered in Iraq-Iran war. We have been through a lot so we are either courageous or crazy, I don't know which.


HOPEFULLY THINGS WILL GET BACK TO NORMAL NOW
Posted by Susan Raymond US aid worker, northern Iraq, 31 January

The polls here closed last night as dark fell. Friends I spoke to all voted for local Kurdish parties, which is to be expected. Everyone said voting was fine - there was good security so they all felt safe. Most said they hoped their vote would make a difference, despite some scepticism. The vote is perhaps less significant here in some respects because Kurds voted in local elections in 1992 and 1999.

For security reasons I mostly stayed inside yesterday - my friends warned me that it would be safer for me this way. It was strange, in some ways things were no different on election day - it was subdued, with few people on the streets and only certain cars belonging to people involved in the elections on the roads. But I didn't feel any tension, which was good.

It was also a mild day yesterday. The past few days have been very chilly and because there's no central heating here, I've had to rely on a kerosene heater. I'm hoping to get out and about more today. Hopefully we'll get back to business as usual.


SOME PEOPLE WISHED THEY COULD HAVE VOTED
Posted by Abu Harith Iraqi shop worker, Hit, 31 January

Everything is calm today, it's a lot warmer then it has been for the past few days - which is a relief because the power is still very bad. There have also been no planes or helicopters overhead and no troops about. Yesterday in Hit, after a quiet morning, it got quite bad in the afternoon with lots of gunfire.

In Hit I'm fairly sure no-one voted as it just wasn't safe. The polling station was 1km away from the town and people just didn't want to go out there. Plus we still have the curfew - no private transport is allowed so we have to go everywhere on foot. I couldn't vote under these circumstances, although yesterday all the people I spoke to told me they wished they could have participated as we would have more representation in any assembly if we had taken part.

Yesterday my family were a little troubled. My wife has relatives in Baghdad - she is from there - and because of bad communications she couldn't get through and see if they all right. We are still trying. My daughter was again frightened by all the noise of planes and shooting last night. My eldest son came to stay with us here at our relatives because we were worried for him.

The children go back to school in a week, normally they would be playing with their friends but we have to keep a watchful eye on them. So, instead, they stay in and watch television, although with the power problems, sometimes even that's impossible. We can't let them do what they want which is a shame because kids at their age - 10 to 21-years-old - are very active. It's not easy to convince them that for now it's not safe to travel and see their friends. One friend of ours sent her son to study in Sudan because she felt it would be safer.


These are some of the comments we have received so far about this log.

Some of the comments refer to previous logs:


These are some of the comments we have received so far about this log.

I am an Iraqi who voted in London at Wembley. We had a carnival atmosphere despite worrying about our people back home. It is just the beginning of a democratic Iraq. Our people, with the help of our allies, will not allow the insurgents to win.
Amad Purtow, St Albans, Herts

I just want to express my happiness that the elections went forward, despite the threats of insurgents who were against them taking place at all. Like Eric, from California, I was also opposed to the invasion of Iraq from the beginning. However, now that we're there we can't just pull out at the drop of a hat and leave Iraq with no government. I hope that the new government is a good one. I look forward to hearing better news about Iraq in the coming months. Hopefully we will be able to pull out soon, knowing that we leave behind a safer country. I know we have a long way to go, but I have faith that the new government will do a great job. Congratulations to all the Iraqis who voted. I hope that conditions only get better from here.
Michelle Dunlap, Ewing, NJ, US

Congratulations on your first free elections! God bless all who participated in this first step on the road to a free and democratic Iraq. My son was an infantry soldier in Tikrit for a year and the future of Iraq remains close to our hearts.
Sarolta Green, Minden, NV, USA

This sure is an encouraging sign - though not everybody voted; at least the we can now see a new Iraq in the making. It's no smooth ride but I'm sure with time things with work out for the better. The people will need to experience the difference to know the benefits.
Ken, Hong Kong

First off, to all the Iraqis who have voted, I want to say God bless and thank you. As a soldier who is on my way home from Iraq, I wondered for months about how the whole thing in Iraq would end. I worked with some Iraqis on my base from time to time and even delivered supplies to a small school once. Over time, I spoke to some of the Iraqis working with us and learned that they were hopeful about the future of their country. (I worked with both Kurds and Shia, no Sunnis that I know of). I am now amazed to see the resolve of the whole country. When I went home on R&R halfway through my tour, people would ask me what I though about the situation over there. I told them the Iraqi people want their lives in their own hands. Well, you have all shown the whole world how true that is.
Eric Hewett, US military base, Kuwait

To all, I'm very happy as an Iraqi live in Canada and really proud about all Iraqis who went out and voted despite all danger. I and my wife went last Friday and voted here in Toronto. This is a historical moment in Iraq's history. I was praying to God last night to enable all Iraqis to go out and vote.
Rashid Al-Saffar, Ajax, Ontario, Canada

I am staying with my parents this weekend and the first question out of lips as we woke up was, how are the elections going? Not since South Africa's historic elections have I seen people in the USA so interested in the elections of another country. None of us in this house agreed with this war, but we are truly happy for you. As African-Americans, we know your elation at having the right to finally participate in your society and truly understand the courage you showed against those that don't want peace. We are praying for you and only wish you a bright, peaceful and prosperous future.
Michelle Ford, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Iraqi citizens: I have been so heartsick at the chaos and violence that has been inflicted upon you, and am awestruck at your courage in risking your lives simply to own your own country. As an American I know we have made many mistakes, but do not doubt for an instant that we are not 100% behind you. Please ask your elected leaders to tell us how we, and countries of all the world can best support you in your quest for total self-determination. It is my hope, as I know it is yours, that the "occupiers" will leave as soon as humanly possible and that you will fashion your government, uniquely your own, not overly influenced by any outside power, nor sabotaged internally. Keep speaking out and thank-you BBC, so we can get to know one another one-to-one... it is a rare opportunity to cross borders and create peace one person at a time.
Carolyn Benner, Westfield, New Jersey

Congratulations to all of the Iraqi people! I am nearly 50 years old, and I have had the opportunity to vote for a presidential candidate eight times in my life. My candidate of choice only won two out of those eight times and I often disagree with the decisions of the government. But I figure if I don't vote, I don't have the right to speak about my disagreement afterwards.
Jocelyn Barnhart, Prescott, Arizona/USA

I am very happy for the people of Iraq who today exercised a right which many of us in Free societies take for granted. My friend Zaid who lives in Baghdad was very excited to take part in this historic occasion. I hope he made it back okay. I hope this will start to sow the seeds of change in Iraq. But I must say that the Iraqi people have really inspired me with their bravery and faith.
Shelley, Toronto, Canada

Congratulations to the people of Iraq who, despite great odds were determined to face the bullet in order to cast their ballots. It shows what oppressed people will do for a taste of freedom.
Michael Lindo, Toronto, Canada

We may all have differing views on whether the coalition was right, but there is no mistaking the looks on the faces of the throngs of people waiting to vote.
Mike Lisle, Chicago, Illinois

My parents are Iraqi, I am Chaldean, but born here in Flint, lived here my whole life. It's happy to see them happy that they are voting, but I doubt the US control will wither away. I don't see Iraq as being a sovereign nation. I feel that Iraq will never be able to move an inch without the US approval. As for the election, I am hoping the People's Union, backed by the secular, left-wing politicians receive a huge outcome in the Parliament.
Matt , Flint, MI USA

I've seen circles of dabka (Arabic for folklore dancing) at polling stations in Australia, women crying from joy in Baghdad. It's amazing to see election celebrated by the Iraqis while for some it is just a matter of course. This is a historic day for the Iraqis because of unprecedented collective bravery: People risking their lives to cast ballots stronger than bullets. Brevity, too, characterizes this day: The gangsters have terrorized the innocent for months and the Iraqis have finally given a brief answer, so brief that it only takes one day. Congratulations for all.
Yasser, Aleppo, Syria

I'm quite heartened by the bravery of the Iraqis who went out and voted even though many died or were hurt during the voting (according to our news sources). I was against the invasion of Iraq since the beginning, but I hope this election is the first step towards a free, stable and above all safe Iraq.
Eric van Bezooijen, California, USA

It was a turning point for Iraq and for Iraqis, I admire the brave people who went to polling stations and cast their vote for their future. But there are a lot of things to be done by the people of Iraq.
Dr. Najibullah, Kabul, Afghanistan

I stayed up until 0400 to watch the Iraqi vote on TV. I was truly moved to tears when I saw the joy and pride on the Iraqi faces as they voted for the first time. The Iraqi people have been through so much before and after the invasion of Iraq. So many lives have been lost and so much destruction has taken place to get to the day where the people of Iraq could finally choose the type of government that they want. It seems that we here in America take the right to vote for granted. Today is a reminder of the price that is paid to have democracy. Congratulations to the people of Iraq and may God bless all of you and your country.
Greg , Redmond, Washington, USA

I whole heartedly empathize how Tariq Al Ani is feeling as he does not know what to expect next. Yes it is true that a journey of million miles must begin with a single step but when there is so much chaos and lawlessness, it gives us very little reason to be optimistic. We too are facing a similar situation out here as the crisis between government forces and Maoist rebels deepens - though not in the scale as in Iraq - and majority of the population are so much insecure about their future, so I am sure the majority of the people in Iraq are feeling the same way. To say the least all we can do is hope for the best and that's all we have.
Prashant Pradhan, Kathmandu, Nepal.

It is wonderful to hear from Iraqis; our media filters news and it is difficult to know whether or not we are hearing the truth. Every day there are more people killed, Americans and Iraqis, but we hear only the body count for Americans. Can someone tell me how many Iraqis have died since the invasion?
Melanie Faith, Amherst, MA, US


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