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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 17:00 GMT
Iraq election log: 2 February 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 ninth instalment, an Iraqi finally manages to return to his home, life returns to normal in northern Iraq and a local Baghdad woman recalls voting despite her family's fears.

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

Posted by Tariq al-Ani law student, Hit, 2 February

I'm back home! We came back yesterday afternoon. Yesterday was so comfortable here, I filled the cars with fuel, drove back home, shook hands with my neighbours and then we all gathered for a meal. Today I have just finished having lunch in the garden after noon prayers and the children are all running around.

It is so nice and comfortable, there have been no bad sounds, no terrible noises. My wife is also very happy and has been very busy cleaning the grounds of the house and garden, pulling up the weeds and sweeping. We left so suddenly when the violence was bad in Hit, we didn't have many things with us at my relatives. So it was hard. In Hit, too, now things seem normal, the market is open and prices even seem to have gone down.

The kids are mostly glad to be home, I think the elder ones liked it at my relatives because there were many other children there, whereas here it is for them a bit more like a prison. But my younger ones are happy, my three-year-old daughter already wants money to go to the shops - she wants to buy a ruler.

My youngest is only a few months old. I have some money so there are no problems with taking care of him. The hospital is only one kilometre away, but sometimes it does not have the proper medicines or vaccines which a baby needs. There are many here who are not so lucky, who have problems with money and cannot get help.

Here in Hit if there is an emergency, such as a fire or the need for an ambulance, there is nothing. There are no police - two weeks ago the police station was burned down. But we are a special case here, there is a deep relationship between the people here socially and in terms of family. Everyone is either your neighbour or kin, and so we protect ourselves. Of my family, my brothers and sisters, my parents and the rest, there are maybe 80 of us. The annoyance comes from several groups in the city - I don't know their ideals.

Posted by Rana Iraqi medical student, Baghdad, 2 February

I have not been in contact for a few days because I'm staying with some of my relatives in a safer district in Baghdad over the elections period. It is relatively quiet here today - mostly Shia Muslims live here.

On Sunday, at first I hesitated to vote, but when I saw my people trying their best to go and vote in spite of the threats, I was encouraged and I went and voted.

I'm so proud I managed to go and vote. We didn't have much in terms of candidate choices, but hopefully these elections will help in one way or another.

My family unfortunately didn't vote as they stayed back home, but I was encouraged by my other relatives to go.

At the beginning at the station I was told that I couldn't vote because my name wasn't at the their polling station, but later they allowed me to. I think I managed to convince them!

We considered voting a national and religious duty. I admire my people, you see. In spite of all the difficulties we've been through, we still have hope for better tomorrow. We are ready to risk our lives for a better future for our children, we want them to live a secure life and learn more about democracy and freedom. Most women took their children with them to the polling centres so that this day will live for ever in their memory.

People have different views here. Some of my friends did not vote because they were not convinced, they don't have faith and feel everything was set up as though only a movie for the rest of the world which will make no difference.

Ultimately, after all we've been through it is hard to trust the incoming government. But all we need is a powerful government that can take control because security remains the number one issue.

Posted by Susan Raymond US aid worker, northern Iraq, 2 February

Well, things are getting back to normal here.

There are still a lot of people wandering around with inky fingers from going to vote. If you ask them about it they are very matter of fact about it, but we all said congratulations to them, regardless.

A typical day now things are back to normal involves working with locals and expat health workers. I go out and visit local authorities and health departments, training locals in delivery room management and midwifery. Most local children are now delivered in the hospitals here but there is still a tradition of home births.

There is also still a tradition of swaddling children among local Kurdish families. The practice is largely safe except for those few children who are born with congenital dislocation of the hip. It can be damaging if their legs are kept straight. We've managed to encourage local women when they swaddle their babies to leave their legs free so the children can develop.

We have good relations with the locals here, they are friendly to Americans and Western workers. I've spent a lot of time here and have picked up some of the local language which also helps. A few weeks ago a colleague of mine helped give out several wheelchairs to local children and the language came in useful!

Life here is quiet in the evenings, so usually I visit local friends, play cards with the local kids or read when I can get my hands on books. I rely on travellers passing through to bring me new things as there is no real mail system here. It's good to get stuff from home.

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.

We had a joke in Iraq that after 80 years there will be people in the street hailing Saddam's grandson as a president of Iraq. That shows how Iraqis did not believe that one day they would get rid of Saddam and his family, friends and followers. I missed the event that all Iraqis dreamed of due to a work assignment in a country which did not have a polling station. But I called family members and friends to encourage them to go and vote. It was such a wonderful feeling. Just to say to the entire world: Iraq is marching forward, the road is long and difficult but we are marching.
H al-Sharifi, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Dear Tarik and other contributors, thank you very much for your posts. They give us a closer look to what is happening and in a way alleviate the natural anguish a human being has for the suffering of another. I, like many, was surprised at the response the people of Iraq towards the elections. You are a very brave and courageous nation. I pray to God that your country may reach unity in diversity soon and that it may become an example to follow.
Tarik, Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

It was a happy day for all Iraqis. Especially for all the Kurds in Iraq who have been for so long mistreated by tyrant governments. Now is the time where Iraqi Kurds will have a say in the new Iraq. Kurds will not be treated as secondary citizens anymore. This is the day that Kurdistan was waiting for. Democracy and Justice for all alike - Kurds and Arabs. A federal government is the answer for all of Iraq's problems.
Saman Ahmad, Washington DC, USA

I am not against elections in Iraq, but I cannot be for them either. They won't really make a difference. They could just as easily appoint someone, since a fraction of the people are informed and participating. Most of all, the elections lend a bogus sense of legitimacy to Bush's war that I think has been illegitimate from the start and still is now. Democracy can be fought for with the barrel of a gun, but we have tried to impose it, with the barrel of a gun. That will never happen.
Fred Caruso, Ashland, Oregon, USA

I voted at Wembley in London with my mother and father, who at the age of 71 finally gets a say. None of us are under any false impression that this is the end of Iraq's troubles, but it is at long last a step in the right direction. My brave fellow countrymen and women are an inspiration and may this prove to be a turning point in Iraq's long and bloody history. I salute you all.
D Mustafa, London, UK

I'm very glad to be able to add in my comments on the election in Iraq. I was here in northern Iraq helping to monitor the election. I'm the director of a local Iraqi NGO and we do democracy and human rights education and projects. All of us were so glad to see the excitement and enthusiasm around the voting and to help people make a good election. While I'm an American living in Iraq, all my friends and colleagues here are local Iraqis. I'm very encouraged by all the work my friends are doing to make Iraq a more peaceful, free country. Long live the elections!
Barbara Lakeberg Dridi, Dohuk, Iraq

I think it's great that the Iraqi people are now voting, but what I really hate is that our country is spending billions of dollars over there nation building while not investing in the poor here at home.
Lawrence Morford, Lake Oswego, Oregon USA

Dear Louay and all Iraqis who voted, congratulations for voting. I was up from 7am watching the elections on television. I was really worried that any thing bad might happen. I was on the phone to Baghdad at 8am, and everyone said they had voted and it was brilliant. Then I went and voted myself, and there was a really good atmosphere in Wembley. Well done Iraq.
Harith, London, UK

I am a US Army Paratrooper and served in Iraq for seven months last year. I returned home because of two gun shot wounds inflicted on me during a fire fight with insurgents. When I got back I began to wonder if what had happened to me was worth it? Every surgery made my fears that my efforts were all in vain seem more and more likely, especially when I considered the cynical view a good friend of mine has about the war. When I began to watch the news on election night those fears vanished. I have renewed faith that it was worth it. Now when I look at my wounds and consider my disability I will always be proud.
Sgt Finney, Mark J, Fayetteville, NC

From perhaps the smallest village in New Zealand we send our congratulations to the people of Iraq on your courage to go out and vote - may you soon have the peace and prosperity you deserve.
Debbie McLachlan, Okarito West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

I do hope that this is the beginning of a democratic life for the Iraqi people and that is the beginning of the end of the occupation. I'm 25 years old, and I just feel helpless thinking about the situation other girls are going through and have been through. I can only speak in general terms because I do not begin to think that I know any specifics but I would like to say that I feel inspired by the youth of Iraq. With hopefully a democratic society working its way towards the people, you will truly be an inspiration for the next generation.
Natasha, Sydney, Australia

I have never seen a nation so happy and proud like what I saw on Sunday. I volunteered to work with the EOD team when I deployed to Iraq. The team has done countless missions within the Diyala Province blowing up IEDs, weapons caches, car bombs etc. I had the opportunity of visiting a lot of polling stations searching for explosive devices. The Iraqi national treated us as heroes, waving and even going to the extent of giving us the thumb up for a job well done. I witnessed people coming to the polling booths in wheel chairs, pregnant women, old and young plying the streets of the various towns we visited making sure that their voices are heard this time. An old man passed by and uttered these words to me "America Zein" in Arabic. I learnt from an Iraq police the meaning of the phrase "America is very good".
Tigi Kargbo, Baqubah, Iraq

I have been against the invasion from the start, but always for the Iraqi people. I have been praying for the Iraqis to show the courage I know they have and to be counted. The American public will not let our government take over your country - if Bush doesn't give way to your elected officials; we will elect someone who will the next time. I have many Arab friends here and we are overjoyed at the result of the turn-out. Long live Iraq and may this be the first step to your freedom.
Lila Kendall, Charlotte, NC, USA

Though I believe strongly that force is never the way to bring about democracy, still I watched all the many, many Iraqis walking quietly - some for long, long distances - to cast their vote and I wept. I sincerely hope and pray that this will be the beginning of the end of the occupation and that all of you Iraqis will soon have better lives.
RM, Columbus, Ohio, USA

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