Optimism has grown in Iraq in the face of sporadic early morning attacks during Sunday’s election. At least 38 people were killed and dozens injured across the country. Two separate bomb blasts exploded in the capital within hours of the polls opening.
The country has been on high alert in the face of threats in a coordinated campaign to scare voters. The polls have now closed with US military scources reporting insurgents had ‘fallen short’ in their attempts to intimidate voters.
As the day, which is so critical to the future of this young democracy began, President Jalal Talabani was among the first to vote, remarking “This election marks another step in the march of our democracy, and also a test.”
Current Prime Minister Al Maliki is fighting for his political future against a coalition led mainly by Shiite religous groups. He said the violence would not undermine the will of the people.
Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi is a secular shiite who has teamed up with a number of sunnis in a bid to claim power in elections which are being seen as a crossroads for Iraq.
Do the voters choose to adhere to politics along the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish lines or move away from the the ethnic and sectarian tensions that have emerged since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his iron fisted rule? There will 325 seats in the new parliament and the results will be watched across the world.