Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Poll shows high turnout in Iraq elections

Tue, 20 Jan 2009 09:41:06 GMT An opinion poll suggests a high turnout in the Iraqi provincial elections. Nearly three fourth of Iraqis say they will take part in the January 31 provincial elections, an Iraqi government-sponsored poll shows. According to a government-sponsored National Media Centre (NMC) survey published on Monday, more than 73% of those questioned said they would participate in the upcoming regional elections. "Among the provinces, Karbala had the highest would-be participation rate with around 85 percent and the lowest was in Najaf," said NMC supervisor Ali Hadi Mohammed. "Thirty percent of those who said that they would participate said that they are doing it as a national duty, 20 percent are doing it because they have candidates they trust and 19 percent said they will vote in the hope of improving the provincial councils' performances," he explained. The survey also revealed that 42 percent of eligible voters would be ready to cast ballots for secular nominees; 31 percent said they prefer candidates backed by religious parties. According to the NMC, the respondents were randomly selected from a range of faiths and ethnicities. Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is responsible for preparing and conducting elections to be held on January 31 in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. The country's last provincial and parliamentary elections were held four years ago. In a Monday statement, top Iraqi cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani urged people to vote in the Jan. 31 provincial elections. Al-Sistani asked voters to "screen and check who's qualified" and to choose candidates who possess the "qualifications, integrity and loyalty to serve the people." The top United Nations envoy in Iraq, Staffan de Mistura, called on the Iraqi government to guarantee safe and democratic provincial elections.

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