Tension is mounting in the countdown to Iraq’s elections with a spate of attacks on designated polling stations. It is a clear sign that militants are keeping their pledge to intensify strikes in the run-up to Sunday’s vote. Parties representing Iraq’s Shia community are likely to win most seats. Shias account for around 60 per cent of the population. But they were repressed under Saddam Hussein’s regime.
In the predominantly Shia suburb of Sadr City in the capital, many simply want jobs, clean water and electricity. Iraq’s Constitutional Monarchy Movement is fielding 75 candidates. Its leader, Sharif Ali Bin al-Hussein, called for a government “that is supported by Iraqi people, that relies on the Iraqi people as its source of strength.
“Then we can solve the security situation in Iraq,” he added. But, in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit, many say they are either too afraid to vote or do not agree with the elections. A car bomb exploded in this Sunni Arab heartland today, killing at least one Iraqi civilian.
It is feared further unrest will follow as the vote draws nearer. “We will not participate in the election,” said Tikrit resident Ahmed Mahmoud. “We want security in Tikrit. Then we will decide to take part in the election.” A top US general has warned that insurgents might be planning a “spectacular” attack before or during the poll – the first nationwide election in Iraq in the post-Saddam era.