A car bomb killed at least 16 people and injured more than 50 in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad on Monday.
US leaders and the interim Iraqi government have both insisted elections scheduled for next January will go ahead, although it's been suggested they may not take place in every part of the country.
Last week King Abdullah of Jordan warned that it will be impossible to hold elections in what he called the current state of chaos there.
Can elections be held in Iraq despite the current violence? Should the elections be held nationwide? Would it be sufficient to hold them in selective areas until the violence on the ground subsides? Send us your comments.
This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.
The current situation in Iraq is out of control. There are many attacks each day. This resembles more war than peace. The reason why these elections have become the focus point of the globe is that the US is trying to prove that progress it being made in Iraq. Well if the Bush administration hadn't failed so miserably in explaining why this war had to be fought and what are their plans in Iraq, instead of insisting that we should follow them in their "war on terror", more progress would have been made. Trying to have elections with all this violence is just a publicity stunt meant to help win the elections in the US.
Litsa Patera, Greece
The poll must be nationwide otherwise not everyone inside Iraq will consider the result to be valid. This will lead to even more unrest. I think that the US and UK just wants to try and say that they have presided over the "democratisation" of Iraq and then they'll feel able to get out. It's all such a mess and the losers are the ordinary people who live there.
All the Iraqis must vote not just the ones who like Bush. The danger here is that Bush will force a partial election excluding the troublesome areas which also happen to dislike Bush and his selection. If there is a partial election then Iraq is facing imminent civil war.
Abul, Oldham, UK
Holding limited elections will result in an illegitimate government that will be strongly perceived as such by the Iraqi people, especially those left out of the voting process. Ironically the very 'hotspots' that would be left out are the ones that most badly need to be integrated into the system. Their exclusion from the voting process will no doubt worsen the crisis of division in the country, leading to more unrest and a great increase in violence. Hardly what the US government claims to be out to achieve!
Norton Fieldman, New York, NY
Anyone who says the elections should not take place is doing the terrorists' job for them. The elections will go ahead and it will be a huge moral blow to their murderous cause. The elections are just what Iraq needs so they can show these pathetic people how they will no longer be cowed under those who wear masks and murder in the name of God. Their power will start to bleed away once elections take place.
What elections? This is a joke, whilst the Americans are flattening Iraqi cities and killing hundreds of innocent civilians. What democracy ? We have seen America's type of democracy in other parts of the world. The so called government of Iraq is nothing more than an American puppet dreamt up to bring the day nearer when the American oil companies can move in. Iraq is another stepping stone for oil. It's not so many years ago they were plotting to invade the oil states, or have you forgotten? What makes the different now.
The BBC reports 2/3 of Iraqis intend to vote, with another 25% probably going to vote. If this is true then this would be a far more representative election than any held in the UK for the last 50 years.
John, Coventry, UK
Consider the fact that there are going to be elections. Flawed or not, it's more than these people could have dreamed of under Saddam. Consider also the responsibility of the Iraqis for hindering elections in some parts of Iraq. The comments I read here don't truly consider the positive implications of this election for Iraq and the Middle East.
For the government to govern the whole country, the whole country has to have an election, no question.
Graeme Worrall, Sweden
The elections should be postponed. The country is too unstable to cope with yet another upset! The elections will just create more chaos and havoc.
Caroline, Durham, England
I think the deteriorating security situation in Iraq is a sign that a January election cannot possibly be a nationwide event. The planned offensive in the Sunni Triangle to flush out militants in December will be an interesting time for Iraq and I think the elections should be moved to late March of next year.
Rhain Williams, Melbourne, Australia
There were selective elections held in South Africa throughout the apartheid years. I wonder if Mr Rumsfeld regards those as better than no elections?
Steve Wood, Cape Town, South Africa
Limited elections? I thought the Americans had said they were returning Iraq to a status of a democratic and peaceful country after toppling the last government. Saddam Hussein, I guess, must be laughing and saying he had told the world and nobody especially Americans and British leadership would listen. Both leaders should apologise for the mess in Iraq.
Danladi Hassan Kobi, Abuja, Nigeria
To limit the election to safe areas of Iraq is essentially just a legal way to rig the outcome. Those citizens opposed to the US occupation are more concentrated in areas of violence in Iraq. To deny these people of the vote goes against every idea of democracy. With selective elections, you might as well declare Allawi dictator and hand Bush a crown.
Laura, Toronto, Canada
Why not introduce postal balloting for the elections in Iraq?
Mr Tony Wise, Nottingham
No need to rush for elections as the situation won't change. If anything, there will be more violence and kidnappings than at present.
Robins, Zomba, Malawi
It is outrageous for any member of the coalition to argue they cannot hold elections in areas considered security risk. It was the duty - we are told - of this coalition, to free the people of Iraq, provide them (and the world at large) with security. If they cannot provide that security, they are failing the people of Iraq. This isn't liberation - it's a country falling apart at the seams.
Jock, Blackwood, Gwent
Elections can be held but not meaningful ones.
Ian, High Wycombe, Bucks
The election is only relevant if all Iraqis have a chance to participate. What about having the election open to any and all Iraqis but only locate the polling places in areas that can be protected for everyone's safety. Keep the polls open long enough for everyone to have the opportunity to travel to them. It's not convenient but it's better than disenfranchising part of the population because we can't control the criminal element.
Darrin M., Amarillo, USA
I think stability and peace is much more important in Iraq than before elections take place. However, more crises are still going on in Iraq. There should be negotiation between the parties who hold power in Iraq. US and Coalition forces have to work hard to stabilize the causalities in Iraq.
Hamidi, Kandahar, Afghanistan
This question is purely academic. There may be an election, but it will not determine the long term future of Iraq. The broadening violence in that country is evidence that more groups in Iraq are arming to oust the coalition and prepare for the civil conflicts to follow.
Christopher, Minneapolis, USA
Elections can be held in Iraq despite the current violence because almost all Iraqis have the will and determination to reach the objective of a democratic free Iraq. The Iraqi army, with the help of the allied forces, is doing a very good job now. Since Syria accepted to cooperate in the protection of the Iraqi borders we expect that the volume of insurgence of foreign fighters will be sharply diminished. Let me ask you can Palestinian violence stop an Israeli election?
Abdul Rahman Al Alwani, Hims, Syria
Any election held now would be considered invalid not only by the broad majority of Iraqis but by the world community. The current puppet government of Allawi has acted in ways which do not inspire hope for a free, democratic nation. There are no political parties or electorates or registered voters, or even a body to register them. There is no accurate census mechanism. Even if a fair election was held, the result would be an unstable coalition of parties and individuals held together along racial or religious lines, and most likely disputes would arise over the validity of votes in individual electorates.
Andrew, Istanbul, Turkey
The USA had an election in 1864 at the height of our Civil War with only one half of our country participating. We re-elected the greatest American President of all time (Abraham Lincoln). It sounds like 80% of Iraq is stable enough for the election. Let it go forth! For democracy to work it has to be for all seasons!
B Montgomery, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Yes elections can happen in Iraq. Its possible, but not smart considering the current situation. I doubt that any election held in Iraq while the US is still there will be embraced by a vast number of Iraqis.
Brent Davis, Saskatoon Canada
King Abdullah is correct. It is ludicrous to propose that elections can, or should go ahead in January. This seems like an attempt towards a 'quick fix' for a problem caused by a hugely unpopular decision. If Democracy concerns the principles of social equality and respect for each individual within a community, then how is it democratic to exclude certain regions from the election process? The challenge for the US leaders and interim Iraqi government is to convince the world that they are setting a model example for the rest of the world to follow. So far they have failed to do this.
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK
King Abdullah does not know what it takes to bring about a democracy. His nation surely does not have one. He is mostly concerned that if Iraq establishes a democracy he and the other middle eastern Kings and ayatollahs and dictators will have to give up power to the people.
smith, South Lyon, USA
Western Democracy is just that: A Western political system fought for and shaped by the people of the west for centuries. We cannot expect to force our western values on the people of Iraq and expect them to be grateful for it when we do. If a large Middle Eastern Army turned up in the UK tomorrow and tried to enforce a Caliphate I think we would be less than pleased. Middle Eastern countries have their own valued political systems which they have developed over the centuries, which have more to do with tribalism and religion than the individual's right to vote. If the people of Iraq wanted democracy they would have deposed Saddam Hussein themselves.
James, Newcastle Upon Tyne UK
So what if elections aren't held nationwide in Iraq? What do you expect when religious fanatics and the agents of other middle eastern countries are doing their best to destabilize the already shaky Iraqi government? Sure, someone could set up voting polls in Falluja or anywhere else where resistance is heavy. How many people would die? Terrorists, both the aforementioned fanatics and the foreign agents, would have a field day. Instead of blaming Americans for the problem, why not point the finger at Islamic extremists?
Instead of handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis, America handed over a ticking bomb with no safety pin. Now they are trying to run away by holding rigged elections. So much for democracy, Mr Rumsfeld!
Venhengo Ras, Kwekwe, Zimbabwe
It has no validity if it doesn't and the question of the validity would haunt any "elected" government. Would the US tolerate such a vote in a country that it did not particularly like?
Shahid, London, UK
I can see why Donald Rumsfeld might favour a less than complete election. It worked out really well for his boss, after all.
Chris Brown, Cambridge, UK
There is no point in holding "general elections" if they are not really general, but involve only a few areas of the country. And what about the Iraqi citizens who are not allowed to vote? It would be unfair.
Gabriele Carchella, Rome, Italy
Donald Rumsfeld states that an imperfect election is better than no election - I don't recall him saying that when Saddam was in power. Iraqi elections will be equally as undemocratic as before if they only occur in certain parts of Iraq.
Barry, Hook, Hampshire, UK
Of course! The elections must be held nation-wide. There is no democracy, whatsoever, if the US hand picks who votes. Why is the US interfering with this matter any way? Hasn't sovereignty been handed over to the Iraqis?
Andrianna, Washington, DC USA
Some of the people posting comments here live in a fantasy world! The elections cannot be presented to all because some of those "all" would rather destroy the process. So they lose out, and that's just too bad. Soon enough, with these baby steps, Iraq will have full elections. We are only just underway, so stop complaining and just applaud the progress!
Jonathan R, SF USA
Before you dismiss the concept that security in an area must be established before polling stations are set up, consider the volunteers who are going to have to stand there for 12 hours. A tempting target to anyone who doesn't want elections. Perhaps those who wish for elections across the country should volunteer to man a polling station in Sadr City.
Roger, Tredegar, Wales
In a predominately Shia country if there were a legitimate election then hard line conservative Shia leaders would win, and the country would become very much similar to Iran. The exact opposite of what the US administration will want. So that leaves the Sunni minority... I suspect another puppet (Saddam Hussein) type figure, how long before we'll be going into Iraq in 20/30 years again under the "pretence" of weapons of mass destruction?
The elections should be abandoned in favour of a simple yes/no plebiscite asking whether the coalition of the willing should get their occupying military out of the country. I would guess that, unless the Americans tried to rig it (as they well might), such a referendum would be welcomed by a wide spectrum of Iraqi society.
John, Hemel Hempstead, UK
My point of view is that the poll in Iraq must be nationwide. What is the democracy worth if it isn't for everybody? It is the same as if the poll did not include women or not-educated people. A true democracy includes everybody in the country.
Anders, Svendborg, Denmark
Even if the elections were held throughout Iraq, what kind of democratic credentials can a government have that won't have any power over the Iraq economy or over the armed forces on its own territory? The 'constitution' of this new Iraq has hamstrung the Iraqi government right from the start. The whole thing is a shameful charade that has nothing to do with democracy.
Katherine, London, UK
My answer would be no election until the coalition is out of the country, let the Iraqi people sort out their problems. USA and their coalition went to Iraq to cause this lawless and uncertain future.
Ahmed Yaasin, London
Elections should only be held where the violence is low. If elections are also held in areas like Falluja and other Sunni areas, that would just cause more violence and bloodshed. Not to hold elections in the Sunni areas is to restore law and order and to minimize the terror attacks, made by desperate Sunnis knowing that their time in Iraq is gone along with Saddam Hussein.
Reza Mohammed Hussain, UK, London
The "all or nothing" view of elections is ridiculous! Do you think the Iraqis are really expecting perfection? That view is a luxury of armchair diplomats. Even a partial election represents a victory over Saddam's dictatorship. Most Iraqis do not dismiss the government as puppets. Why would they? The interim government is trying to give them something that all the anti-war rhetoric will never provide: A chance to move ahead with their liberation.
Andrea, NY, USA
As long as there are occupation forces supporting a puppet government in Iraq, there can be no such thing as free and fair elections. Where are the other candidates, how can they campaign freely? One never hears of them. To be seen as valid, any elections in Iraq must be organized and held under the mandate of the UN, with no U.S./U.K. occupation force there. I suggest the U.S. fix its own "democracy" before it tries telling other people how to do it! As for Defence Secretary Rumsfeld, he lost touch with reality a long time ago. What a farce!
Khalid Ahmad, Ottawa, Canada
Through the current state of chaos I doubt that any thing legitimate could come out of elections in Iraq now. If you force things, the results may not be accepted, and then things will worsen
Adil Al Ouardighi, Rabat Morocco
There is clearly no way elections can be held in Iraq in January as the security situation means that no acceptable and indisputable outcome can be achieved. There is also no way the US will admit to this prior to the elections on November 2.
Mike, London, UK
Implicitly, Mr Rumsfeld is also saying that there are regions in Iraq that are, in a sense, sovereign nations themselves in a state of anarchy. To me, this lowering of the bar is going to cause more problems by setting a poor precedent and it also sends the wrong message to the so-called enemies of democracy by declaring that they have succeeded in their battles against the forces of democracy.
Imran Pirwani, Iowa City, USA (ex Pakistan)
Last time I checked democracy meant literally rule by the people not rule by some people. Likewise freedom means absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action. Conducting elections in some viable provinces and not all does not reflect the true spirit of democracy. In spite of that I doubt these provinces truly exercise freedom or be allowed to exercise freedom. Let us not be fooled, lest we be na´ve.
Tito Lopez, NY, USA
Democracy is not the mechanics of voting. It is a state of mind exercised through votes. Our insistence on election under the circumstances compromises the concept of democracy and of democratic values.
Zaki Mustafa, United States
I do not understand this question about elections and democracy in Iraq. No matter what, the USA will always continue to control Iraq, either through brute force, or a puppet regime. Come on people; let's get real here! True democracy will never happen in Iraq as long as the USA and Britain are there.
Miguel Nieto, Germany (USA expat)
Elections in Iraq within the specified time frame, would be just as successful as constructing a plane out of cardboard and plywood, propelled by two old and abused desk top fans, hooked on to a malfunctioning switch, with full intentions of following a flight path to Heaven.
Blanshard Meheux, Freetown, Sierra Leone
As a resident of Florida whose vote was not counted in 2000, I resent any administration official, but particularly a high-ranking one, making statements about how acceptable an imperfect election may be.
Bill, Tampa, FL, USA
Criminals precipitating violence against the state should be prevented from participating in the democratic process. They have forfeited their right to vote. Those who harbour and encourage the violence at home, in the suburbs, in the villages, are equally responsible and have forfeited their right to vote as well. The elections should be held nationwide as far as possible. Those excluded should look around their own neighbourhood for the ones who are to blame for their disenfranchisement.
Peter Macdonald, Vancouver, Canada
Come election day, I think you'll find the only Iraqis able to vote will be those who'll back a pro-American government. The Americans aren't going to allow the oil, the real reason they invaded Iraq in the first place, to fall into the hands of anyone voicing anti-American feeling. Remember, they weren't at all bothered about democracy in Iraq when Saddam Hussain was an ally opposing the Iranians.
Mark Pearson, Oxford, UK
The cost of freedom is high but once won, the greater good for all brings life, love, beauty, and comfort to all who live in freedom. I would like to see the free nations of the world support this election and flood the territory with men and women who are willing to fight and live for freedom.
Judith Hagan, Phoenix, USA
We have seen many elections voting for Saddam Hussein. The next January election will be same as majority of Iraqis see Allawi as US stooge and it will be really difficult for the elected government to remain in power. They will be uprooted the day occupation of Iraq ends. I see total chaos in Iraq for the next ten years. Iraq can only have stable and legitimate government accepted by all if the occupation forces leave Iraq immediately, Allawi and his team resign and if the UN takes over security in Iraq and arranges regional elections first to build a national government.
Pervez Yusuf, Delhi, India
I believe the Americans should acknowledge that the war was illegal and a mistake and after that to give the responsibility to the Arab League (if they do that I believe the League will accept). But whatever the League will decide to do has to be fully financed by the so-called coalition, if the League accepts I believe Iraq will go back to normal much faster than if it would stay under the control of the Americans and their puppet regime. Allawi and his ministers are seen as puppets by the majority of the Iraqi people.
Peter Sharbin, Nicosia, Cyprus
If the up coming elections in America will be conducted nationwide, than why shouldn't Iraq have theirs nationwide if Bush and his boys say Iraq is peaceful? Those guys have spoiled Iraq. They must rebuild the people's nation before talking about general elections.
Stephen Bendah, Liberia/Ghana
It is mind-boggling that this is even under consideration. Of course all Iraq citizens must be able to cast their vote if the Iraqi/Arab/world is going to take this exercise seriously.
Anna Khatira, Bogota, Colombia
People who have created violent and unstable areas have sealed their own fate. They chose to make their point via violence and not through peaceful elections. If they wage war and violence, then they do not get a vote. People who have respect and are peaceful will get to vote. It's one or the other.
Joseph, NJ, USA
Elections in Iraq have to be nationwide since it may come as a sentimental dole to those who have grievances against the US.
Nkemjika Philemon, Buea, Cameroon
The election will not be fair at all. There is no point in holding elections while Iraqi people are being attacked on the ground and by war planes.
Asad, Iraqi in UK
The elections will go ahead because approximately 12 million people want this historical event to proceed.
Max E Webb, Mareeba, Australia
There is no choice but to have elections. Although Zarqawi and Sadr dominate the news, Ayatollah al-Sistani is the most powerful man in Iraq, and he won't accept a delay in the elections.
Pat H, Morristown, NJ, USA
Does it matter? Only when all foreign forces have left the country, the people of Iraq can express themselves freely. Till then, nothing will be valid.
Pierre Beerkens, Netherlands
An election anywhere in the world in which some of the citizens cannot vote cannot be considered as legitimate.
Carol Kelly, Bedford, Massachusetts
The good question would have been can Iraq poll be nationwide? As I see it many regions won't be secure for months, and Iraqis have to have a government, something to refer to. But in my opinion it would be better to elect an assembly with many representatives of the people and elected by the people. A president is secondary.
Whether selective, or not, the issue is not of demographic nature. There are many issues which show that elections held in Jan 2005, can't possibly be valid. First of all, where are the parties that will contest in the elections? Second where is the voters list, Polling clerks and polling stations? Thirdly where is the provisional constitution that can provide the guiding election laws? All these factors are necessary for a successful election, yet none of them is being talked about. For the US administration and Iraq Interim government to say there will be election as scheduled is just a big joke!
Pascal, Toronto, CA
The only people who oppose partial elections are the naysayers and appeasers. The violence mongers in the Sunni triangle don't want elections; they want Saddam back, so ignore them. They are getting what they deserve... daily US air strikes. By most estimates; other than the media which are afraid to leave their hotels in the capital, 80% of Iraq will have basically free and open elections. After 30 years of Saddam, this is an incredible accomplishment.
Paul, Saskatoon, Canada
Faced with the choices of no elections, partial elections, foreign forces withdrawal or, division of Iraq into its three old ethnic components, it's a no brainer. Keep in mind that Iran's intention is to dominate the entire region... only a (even partially) democracy will be able to stand up to them.
Michael Chittum, San Francisco, USA
How on earth can a puppet state imposed by occupying forces have a democratic election in the first place? They already banned television channels they don't like. Do you seriously think they are going to accept a party they don't like? Please don't make me laugh...
John Dougill, Kyoto, Japan
Please, please do not mistake elections for democracy. A lot of effort could be put into an election, and they might end up with no democracy at all. You can't - and should not - hold elections without the appropriate institutions in place and working. These can't be established by an occupying force but only by the people of the country. Anyway, I can't imagine elections being held when people are shot at in the streets on a daily basis.
Who/what are the Iraqi people to vote for? There are no parties or political programs. Also, there are no registered voters! It's the standard case of what comes first the egg or the chicken! In my opinion the whole thing is eye wash. Holding an election under current circumstances will lead to civil war.
Alan, Freiburg, Germany
The election must be seen as fair. In order for elections to help stabilize the situation in Iraq, they must be seen as fair, not by the U.S. or the U.N., but by Iraqis themselves. If they believe the election was somehow staged or excluded a specific set of voters, the insurgency will grow still stronger. It seems to me that if you thought you were excluded from elections that would determine your countries future, you would not take it lightly.
Tim Keenan, Shrewsbury, MA, US
Without adequate security, elections are meaningless and will not be credible. Currently there are just too many no-go areas in Iraq owing to the endemic violence. Partial elections are definitely not the solution. The situation in Iraq is highly chaotic and extremely volatile. Things are getting from bad to worse and it is imperative to stem the violence first and then to establish stability throughout the country.
The United Nations should play an active and vital role in bringing peace to this war-torn region. Through binding resolutions of the General Assembly, free and fair elections should be held with UN monitors. Nothing should be done unilaterally! The Iraqis should be allowed to get on with their lives. As long as the violence persists with such ferocity, there can neither be free nor fair elections. The conditions are simply not right at present.
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
Starting to promote democracy with a partial election is not a good sign. With regard to the current chaos, the US has to make it stop as this is the duty of an occupying force. Trying to achieve democracy the other way around does not make much sense.
Th, Paris, France
To hold elections in areas of Iraq that are unsafe would be foolish, to not hold elections in areas that are safe would be un-democratic. Islamic terrorists, not Americans are against free elections for all the people of Iraq. Islam is not a religion, just look at the things it does on any given day.
William L Donlon, Rochester, New York, USA
King Abdullah has hit the nail on the head: with the present chaos in Iraq it will be impossible to hold free and fair elections. Jordan has all along been a staunch supporter of the United States but not this time!. As the situation gets totally out of hand, King Abdullah has clearly enunciated his views, a position which will not be welcomed by the Bush administration. It is high time Washington pays heed to sensible advice especially from a long time close ally in the Middle East. Iraq could be George Bush's nemesis!
Pancha Chandra, Brussels, Belgium
It doesn't matter if elections are held in Iraq today, January 2005, or January 2010. Whoever wins will be pro-U.S., invite the Americans to stay and build military bases, and allow foreign businesses to control oil, financial, and commercial enterprises. Elections in occupied countries are fairly predictable.
Chuck Kulig, Chicago, USA
Elections were held in several countries despite difficult situations and instability. It was the case in Kosovo, Bosnia and East Timor where large parts of the population were displaced and could not participate to the elections. Elections are regularly held in Cyprus despite the partition of the island. And, before the Intifada the Palestinians held elections while large parts of their territories remained occupied. So, why should it be different in Iraq?
I agree with the Abdullah, more to the point elections in January serve only the strategy designed by the Americans. Iraq needs security and all efforts should focus on that. Iraq and its politicians need to stand independent and secure within their borders to be elected, after all would you elect a leader or a politician who can neither provide independence or security, let alone jobs?
Ahmad Hmoud, Amman, Jordan
What can be achieved by delay? How can a violent minority dictate to the peaceful majority. Iraq has to move on. Everyone heard Mr. Alawi stating that he engaged in dialogue with everyone. Some refused to lay down their arms. Those who refuse can perhaps participate at the following elections, after 4 years. Elections has to proceed on time even if they don't represent 100% of the population, after all, what percentage take part in election in the USA, UK and other democratic countries? A big percentage also refuse to vote.
Joe Obayda, Surrey, UK
I don't think fair and free elections can be held in Iraq under the current state of chaos. None of the needed preparations are up to the timelines set for it. For example at this moment only 8 UN workers are doing something in an office in Baghdad related to elections. President Bush and Prime Minister Alawi are living in a fantasy world. At this moment there is only one reasonable advice. President Bush should declare his coalition have won the war and get out. Most of the US people will believe this lie also, and vote him to get a second term.
Frits Plantinga, Sneek, The Netherlands
The election must take place, even if it's not possible to hold it nationwide. A 50%-elected government is better than the current 0%-elected government.
Elections should be held in Iraq in any circumstances. If UN takes the leading role then the violence can be controlled. In this sense Muslim countries like Bangladesh can contribute troops to Iraq for holding elections.
Taufiq Aziz, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Of course elections can be held in Iraq. The question is: can "fair" elections be held in Iraq by January. The same can even be asked in Bush's America. Both events are highly doubtful.
John, Taipei, Taiwan (Canadian ex-pat)
It is no wonder to hear such comments from politicians especially from the countries neighbouring Iraq. None of them would like to see a democratic country emerging in the region. They have been and are still directly and indirectly sending terrorist groups into Iraq to derail the ongoing process towards democracy. It is too late to say that things should have been like this or that.
Those who are genuinely concerned about the people of Iraq should be positive and try to pacify the situation. The Iraqi government should not give up and do everything possible to ensure that elections are held as scheduled. Even if they are 70% successful, it would be viewed a big victory at this stage. There are no one hundred percent perfect elections anywhere on earth. Any long delay or cancellation of the elections would be interpreted as a victory for the forces of evil.
Kamal Dooski, Dohuk, Iraq
Do the people who condemn the election process in Iraq care to comment on the quality of Iraqi elections before Saddam was deposed? Of course not! What hypocrisy!
Wijnand, Amsterdam, NL
Yes the elections have to be nationwide. Otherwise it's a mockery of democracy. All the Americans need do to steer the elections is act a bit more provocatively in areas known to be against their favoured vote, and easy peasy - no elections in that area. The only possible justification for the whole appalling mess is now an Iraq democracy. So do democracy. Or get out.
Personally, I feel that partial elections would be worse than no election at all. I especially take issue with the comments of S. Treach, who says that free nationwide elections may produce the "wrong leaders". It is simply not up to him/her to make that decision for the Iraqi people. For democracy in Iraq to have any chance of succeeding, it must be felt by them to be a worthwhile procedure.
If election's processes are tweaked - whether for security reasons or to ensure the election of the "right" leader - then all that has been established is the ineffectiveness of democracy in the minds of the Iraqi people. I feel that if certain regions are excluded from the election, then it would do more to foster national disunity than the opposite. It will, in effect, give the disenfranchised regions a legitimate grievance, one which could be easily (and violently) exploited against the resulting government. Between a bad option and a worse one, elections within Iraq must be universal! .
Octavia Cade, Dunedin, New Zealand
Full elections would certainly be desirable but also impossible, given the current level of violence in Iraq. Imperfect elections would surely be better than none. After all, elections have often been "imperfect" in countries all over the planet. Safe voting areas should be guaranteed as possible in Iraq, also safe transportation for those from other locations who want to vote. Though "safe" seems to be a near-hopeless word in Iraq. However, postponing elections would only guarantee continuing violence. Whoever's responsible for the bombings definitely seems to want to make sure there are no elections. Also they seem to care much more for showing the world an eventually defeated America than they care for living, moderately free, moderately safe Iraqis.
Francisca, Lisbon, Portugal
Since the US failed to organize proper elections last time and there are serious doubts if they will be able to do so this time (representatives from the EU will monitor the polls), I believe that the US is not up to the task. Maybe they should first get it right within their border before they try to organize election sin other countries.
Xristofors Papakaliatis, Athens Greece
Polling have to be nationwide and the earlier the better.
Suraj Chhetri, Kathmandu, Nepal
I do not agree with Rumfeld's comment about holding partial elections in Iraq. We should not even have invaded. That being said we are there and we need to get things under control and let the Iraqis chose their own elected officials and get out of there.
Conrad, Reading, USA
If it were the case that the violent radicals in places like Falluja were for democracy at all, then ensuring nationwide polls would be worth while. But why should the Kurds and the Shia, who, with the exception of Sadr, have been asking for elections, be denied their opportunity to cast ballots? In many areas of the north and south, local elections have already occurred. Let these areas begin the process of electing national representatives in January. After all, to duly elect a representative from Basra only requires votes from Basra.
It would be better to have an incomplete but fairly elected government than to have the current government that is neither elected nor complete. The new representatives would be better agents to reach settlement with violent forces that may be open to negotiation and who likely believe that the current government consists of puppets. As the UN deems new areas to be hospitable for elections, those areas can select their representatives to the national parliament, and, in time, complete the national body.
John, Atlanta, GA, USA
Any election held under occupation by a foreign power can only be a farcical showpiece. In the chaos and daily slaughter of Iraq the so-called pending "democratic election" is a joke--and a cruel one at that.
Robert Rogerson, Port Alberni, Canada
People who are now critical of a partial election would be equally critical if Rumsfeld had said that elections will be postponed indefinitely until security is established everywhere. Partial elections with the promise of a second election within a short period conditioned by the establishment of security is better then nothing. If even 75% of the people cast their vote and begin seeing and believing that Democracy is truly at work then it will infect the rest of Iraq with positive change instead of the current disease of terrorism.
Raakesh, Florida, USA
Many of the comments posted are naive because they fail to appreciate who would gain most by a delay or modified elections. Clearly the Sunnis would like to see no elections and the Shiites (60% of the population) want one-man, one-vote elections as scheduled. This is a war for power once the Americans leave Iraq, not for democracy.
Robert Harper, Toronto, Canada
I wonder how US citizens would feel if someone suggested that, say, Florida should be excluded from the forthcoming presidential election? Not very happy, I imagine. Besides which, Rumsfeld seemed to be giving the impression that you could, in effect, just fence of a specific chunk of Iraq and exclude it from the election. The impression I get is that, far from being confined to a specific region or set of regions, the current violence is geographically widespread, even though it is only perpetrated by a minority of the population. Maybe this is yet another example of how the US tendency to be inward-looking blinds its citizens to the real facts.
David Hazel, Fareham, UK
There is no doubt that a national election with no geographic exclusions is desired. However, it is not necessary. For decades elections in the United States excluded women, blacks and a significant number of southern states. Does that imply that, say, Abraham Lincoln's election was invalid?
TM, Virginia, USA
The situation in Iraq is so unique that it calls for extraordinary measures. In a free and democratic society, elections should be conducted on a nationwide basis. But in Iraq that scenario might produce the wrong leaders. It is far better to have the January election constrained to geographic/cultural areas where the results would be more predictable and acceptable. Going forward, Iraq requires good, strong leaders like Allawi and restrictions in the voting would ensure the satisfaction of that requirement.
S Treach, Woodstock, NY
I must agree with Dave here. You can't have elections in areas where militants and Coalition Forces are actively exchanging fire, it's just not practical. Saying that, the 75-80% figure given out by Rumsfeld is to low to represent all the factions inside Iraq. More needs to be done to improve security before elections take place, the only way I see this happening is if the US/Coalition sends more troops to secure more of the country.
Scott, Belfast, UK
America and it's allies did not set the date the UN did. Allawi's government is determined to have the elections by that date. As I understand it, this would not be the first time a nation didn't have "full" elections. It apparently happened once here in the US as well. For those who would argue there will be fodder for more complaints about legitimacy. There will be complaints regardless of how it is done. You can count on it. Iraq is a highly partisan issue no matter what country's soil you are standing on.
Sean, Washington, USA
What difference will it make in terms of instability after the elections? Zip. Zilch, Nada, Zero. The mess is all set to worsen; be it under Allawi and Co. or someone else elected after January elections. The problem to deal with should be insecurity not partial or complete elections. Even if it will be nationwide, it will still not be credible at all... not to forget bloody and painful for all concerned.
Bhawan, Baghdad, Iraq
What many people don't understand is that during the American Civil War, elections were not held in 11 of the states from 1862-1864. This was because it was impossible due to all of the violence. Iraq should have elections, even if it isn't in every province. To suggest otherwise ignores history.
I am saddened that so many contributors seem to think that this is a cynical attempt by the US to rig the elections. As I see it, the US is trying to sort things out in very difficult circumstances. Is an incomplete election worse than one marred by violence and intimidation?
Dave, Sheffield, England
Anything less than a full, fair election will only give dissidents another excuse to continue to undermine attempts to bring peace to Iraq.
Keith, Uxbridge, UK
As an Iraqi living in the UK, what better way to cause tension amongst Iraq's diverse communities than to hold elections in mainly Shia and Kurdish areas but not to hold them in Sunni cities like Falluja, Ramadi, Samara and Baquba. I am sure in this scenario elections will be counter-productive and the outcome will create more problems than they will solve.
Mohammed Rahman, Oxford, UK
This sounds like the first steps in an American attempt to delay or cancel the elections, or to provide only candidates that they approve of. Of course selective elections would not be considered valid either by Iraqis or the rest of the world. I agree with Kerry about trying to fool American voters - they should know that events in Iraq are spiralling out of control.
Richard Absalom, La Roche Sur Yon, France
Well spotted Richie UK, yes Iraq was handed over, but as many have already stated it was to a US-picked puppet. The elections to be legal must be held nationwide, otherwise it is another coalition-led farce.
George, Tangmere, UK
"Selective elections" have no validity. By now our presence in Iraq probably has no validity among most Iraqis and, to the rest of the world, we are unfortunately more than ever "ugly Americans."
Laurel Sparks, Madison, USA
The poll should definitely be held nationwide, under the supervision and protection of the European and American forces. Iraq has never had a democratic government and will therefore be in need of some guidance from the democratic nations of this world. It's just a shame it's not the French, Germans, Italians or any other European countries giving the advice as they could be much more impartial than the USA.
Dave, Slough, UK
They need not be nationwide; many of the people in these areas have no interest in democracy anyway as their actions to date have proven. People who want to vote will understand they'll have to wait. If, however, someone can get away from the danger zones they should certainly be allowed to participate. The key issue, of course, will be power-sharing and how it's done: Sunni, Shia and Kurd are going to have to work together or it's all doomed.
I McVay, Toronto, Canada
The voice of all Iraq must be heard or the election must be delayed. There are to many varied ethnic groups in Iraq to accept any portion of one unable to vote because of conflict. This would disproportionately affect the Sunni and Shia who are embroiled in rebellion against the Americans. Putting the shoe on the other foot America, would you accept an electoral vote with Florida unable to cast because of a massive terrorist strike or some other disaster? Would Rumsfeld's attitude be the same then? If its not good enough for America, its not good enough for Iraq. If anything should be as close to perfect in this world, it should be a democratic election for goodness sake!
Jason Dimmell, Ottawa, Canada
The elections must be held nationwide, if it will really be possible to do so without being disrupted by those gangs of assassins who are only there to take the lives of innocent people.
Chernor Jalloh, Almeria, Spain
Of course the election must be nationwide. The US is just trying to rig the Iraq elections by denying the vote to people who would support candidates opposed to the US occupation. A fully democratic Iraqi government will face enough problems as it is. An Iraqi government supported by only some of the people will be in the same situation as the US appointed one is now, with all the same problems.
Peter, London, UK
Holding limited elections may be all that is possible, but if that is the case it will simply add fuel to the fire. In all probability any government formed by limited elections will leave some segments of the population unrepresented - pretty much the situation that existed before our intervention. My feeling is that this is the "light the fuse and stand well back" policy.
Iraqi people should be the one deciding to conduct the poll at an appropriate time, not America and its allies.
Jahangeer K A, Singapore
The notion that a limited poll would result in a legitimate regime is ludicrous. The resulting administration would be no more legitimate than the American puppet regime now installed. Thankfully the election date is after the American election and if there is any sanity in the American public we will see a change of policy in the states that will result in a change of policy toward the rest of the world.
Bill Hamilton, Canada
"Limited elections"? Does this mean you only let people vote who will vote for your puppet? So much for "freedom".
The unsafe areas are those areas specifically not supportive of the US occupation. To exclude these areas from an election then defeats the entire purpose of a democracy.
Rachel, USA (ex UK)
Mr Rumsfeld said: "Well, so be it, nothing is perfect in life, so you have an election that's not quite perfect. Is it better than not having an election? You bet." Wasn't that how Bush got elected?
It is the responsibility of the coalition to bring security to the region. They are failing miserably to do this. The US proclaimed that Iraq will the model state for the rest of the Middle East and democracy will triumph. They have failed to bring security and now they may not be able to hold elections in the 'no go' areas. This statement by Rumsfeld is merely a symptom of a wholly failing ill-thought-out policy in Iraq, pre and post war. Sadly, it's the people we are supposed to be helping who suffer the most.
Jock, Blackwood, Gwent
The Americans have repeatedly promised free elections. However, now we find out that these free elections will only be held in areas which support the Americans? And to think I actually supported this farce last year.
David Russell, Glasgow
It would seem Donald Rumsfeld has come up with a new form of democracy. It's called Selective Democracy and will be held in "safe" areas where voting will be in the areas that support the present puppet government.
Clive, Dartford, UK
Any step towards democracy is important and should be supported by all Iraqis. It is not hard to afford peace in some troubled regions to be able to make elections. Just some will, and some tanks, for 12 hours, and that's it. Tanks can get out after.
It has to be, because if it isn't nationwide then it isn't democracy, even by the fairly narrow standards of Western representative democracy.
Rick, Bury, Greater Manchester, UK
If some areas don't want their own elected official then fair enough. But what if the Americans disagree with the candidate list or winners if they may put an Islamic government in power?
I guess this is American-style democracy, very much like Florida where polling stations were opened later and closed early, thereby disenfranchising voters (mostly Afro-American Democrats).
Is it a coincidence that it is the most violent parts of Iraq that have the strongest opposition to the American occupation? It's just a sly way of keeping those who disagree with Americans away from the ballot box - some democracy.
Pete, York, England
If the poll is not nationwide, it will lead to the disintegration of Iraq into many nations.
It will be very interesting to see if the Iraqi people elect someone the Americans don't like, if the Americans will again force regime change in the name of democracy even though democracy has spoken.
how can you possibly have a selective election and then say that this is what the people have voted for? Surely this will only cause more anger and hatred. Allow the so called insurgents and militia to have their nominated candidates and if the Iraqis don't want them in power they won't vote for them. Simple as that.
Rizwan Saleem, UK
What does this have to do with Rumsfeld? I thought the USA had "handed over sovereignty" to Iraq?