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Violence Continues In Iraq As Votes Cast Abroad


28 January 2005 -- Expatriate Iraqis around the world journeyed sometimes long distances to cast votes today in Iraq's general elections, two days before the polls are to open in Iraq.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh told a news conference in Baghdad that he expects the final percentage turnout of eligible voters in the 30 January elections to be higher than typical voter turnout in a U.S. election.

He said that the Iraqi elections will be imperfect but credible.

"[There is] no doubt in my mind that these will be credible elections, maybe imperfect in certain ways given the environment we are talking about, but nevertheless a major improvement on what we have had before," Saleh said.

More than 280,000 people living abroad in 14 countries have registered under the auspices of the International Organization for Migration.

The host countries have established a total of 74 centers for the voting.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today repeated his calls upon Iraqis to cast their ballots in the elections and urged insurgents not to disrupt the voting process.

Iraq's interim government has increased security measures ahead of the polls, sealing borders, extending curfew hours, and restricting traffic in order to counter insurgent efforts to derail the election.

But deadly attacks continue. Insurgents killed some 10 Iraqis and five U.S. soldiers today, while the government said it had caught three Al-Qaeda lieutenants.

(Agencies)

For news, background, and analysis on Iraq's historic 30 January elections, see RFE/RL's webpage "Iraq Votes 2005."
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