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Last Updated: Monday, 31 January, 2005, 07:42 GMT
Welsh Iraqis cast their votes
Iraqis meet in Cardiff to travel to vote
The mood in Cardiff among many Iraqis was jubilant
Around 1,000 Iraqis who have settled in Wales have cast their votes in London for the election being held in their homeland.

Seven coaches from Cardiff and Swansea travelled to a polling station in Wembley, north London, on Sunday.

Leaders of the Iraqi communities in Wales said hundreds more were also travelling by car.

More than 250,000 expatriates across the world exercised their right to vote in the historic election.

The elections are the first since Saddam Hussein was overthrown.

Of 150,000 UK residents eligible, just 30, 961 have registered to take part in the poll for the 275-member assembly. The result is expected in February.

Salam Hasan, of the South Wales Iraqi Association, said he had been waiting for this day for many years.

"Today is one of the happiest days of my life," he said on Sunday. "Today we can alter the history of Iraq. It is the start of the defeat of terrorism and all those people who live in the dark."
Dina El-Khazragi
Proud to be voting : Dina El-Khazragi
Mazzin El-Khazragi lost three members of his own family in a suicide bomb attack just last week. He said he had spoken to relatives still in Iraq and said they were "more determined than ever" to cast their votes, as was he.

"Last week when we registered, I actually cried. I am ecstatic today - it is a beautiful day."

Dina El-Khazragi said it was an "extremely emotional day" for Iraqis everywhere.

"It's fantastic," she said. "It's not just the first time in history that Iraq has had a democratic vote, it's also the first time that women have been allowed to vote, and the Iraqi government is going to be 25% women.

"I'm just so proud that I'm going to be one of the first women to vote."
Massin El-Khazragi
"A beautiful day" : Massin El-Khazragi
There has been a series of suicide bombings in Baghdad, as insurgents try to disrupt the elections. Several polling stations were attacked by suicide bombers and at least 22 people were killed in Iraq on Sunday.

Cynon Valley MP Ann Clwyd has been visiting Basra. Ms Clwyd - the prime minister's special representative on human rights in Iraq - told BBC Wales she had been impressed by the determination of the Iraqis.

"They were defying those who had threatened them and they were saying; "We are not having this any more...we are exercising our right to vote"," she said.

Iraqis vote amid mounting attacks
30 Jan 05 |  Middle East

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