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Vote Counting Under Way In Iraq --> A Kurdish woman casts her ballot in the parliamentary elections (epa) 16 December 2005 -- The vote counting is under way in Iraq following the election to choose the first full-term Iraqi parliament since the ouster of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in 2003.

The voting yesterday was mainly peaceful, and electoral officials estimated that turnout could be as high as 70 percent or more.

Electoral officials said it could take as long as two weeks to get the final results of the vote for the 275-member National Assembly, whose members will serve a four-year term.

The elections were widely welcomed as an apparent success by countries around the world, with Russia, Great Britain, and Turkey all calling the vote an important event for Iraqis.

President George W. Bush said the vote marked a big step toward achieving U.S. goals: "This is a major step forward in achieving our objective, which is an ally -- having a democratic Iraq, a country able to sustain itself and defend itself, a country that will be an ally in the war on terror, and a country which will send such a powerful example to others in the region, whether they live in Iran or Syria, for example."

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the voting appeared to have gone very well, and called on the Iraqi people to accept the results when they are released.


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.