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Polls Close In Iraq Elections


http://gdb.rferl.org/EB08A551-FE4A-4388-9031-25284926B81F_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/EB08A551-FE4A-4388-9031-25284926B81F_mw800_mh600.jpg Election-day security (epa) 15 December 2005 (RFE/RL)-- Polling stations closed around Iraq today after a full day of voting to elect a new parliament.


Reports say there were indications of a large turnout in the country's more than 33,000 polling stations, especially among Sunni Arab voters who in January boycotted elections to Iraq’s interim parliament.


It is unclear when the results will be released, but it was two weeks before the results of January’s elections were known. Due to time differences, some polling stations abroad are still open.


Up to 15 million Iraqis were eligible to cast ballots for candidates to serve a four-year term in the 275-member National Assembly.


Speaking to RFE/RL, Iraqi Defense Minister Sad'un al-Dulaymi said Iraq had passed through a "historical" stage. "Today will go down in history as a proud day,” he said. “Iraqis will proudly go down in history as having come out, defying all threats, so they could say 'yes' to Iraq, 'yes' to unity, 'yes' to coexistence and 'yes' to tolerance."


Overall, the level of violence was relatively light and did not appear to discourage Iraqis for voting. Security was tight.


Several explosions rocked Baghdad as polls opened, including a large blast near the government’s headquarters in Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone. The U.S. military said two civilians and a U.S. soldier were slightly injured.


(with agencies)

Coalition Images Of The Voting


The Multinational Force in Iraq on December 15, 2005, released official images of the voting in the legislative elections. To view a slideshow of their photographs, click on the image.

To see RFE/RL's special webpage about the election, click here.

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