Election preparations are in full swing in Iraq just three days away from the poll. Ballot boxes are being distributed around the country and Iraqis are being urged to vote despite escalating violence. Insurgents have stepped up attacks on places where ballots will be cast and have warned candidates and voters they could also be targeted. US President George W. Bush would not predict turnout on Sunday but acknowledged that some voters were frightened.
“We anticipate a lot of Iraqis will vote, clearly there are some who are intimidated. Surveys show the vast majority want to participate in democracy. But there are some people who are intimidated. I urge all people to vote, I urge everyone to defy the terrorists, these terrorists do not have the best interests of the Iraqi people in mind, they do not have a positive agenda, they have no clear view of a better future,” he said.
US soldiers have been helping Iraqis understand the voting procedures, but the United Nations has said they should minimise their involvement in the election. American Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has warned that violence could further escalate after the poll, predicting that it could take until April for things to settle down.