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  • Saturday, January 29, 2005

    Iraqis vote in Britain

    For the first time in about 50 years, Iraqis have been going to the polls to vote in the elections, unfortunately many of them won't be aware of who they are voting for, and on the reports I have seen many appeared to be confused about what the various lists stand for, however, some were happy to take part:

    Relatively few of his compatriots, however, registered to vote. There are an estimated 250,000 Iraqis in the United Kingdom but only 30,961 took part in registration proceedings at three polling stations: in London, Manchester and Glasgow. Voting continues until 5pm on Sunday. Because of problems about checking identities, no postal ballots were allowed. Those who did arrive at the Wembley conference centre, in north-west London, were reluctant to leave the festive atmosphere. "I'm so happy," said Juliette Antabil who fled Baghdad with her husband and children in 1993. "It's like I'm coming to a wedding. I feel free now. It feels like Baghdad in here. I just want to cry. Everyone has been so nice to us. I'm 47 and this is my first election ever. There were no elections under Saddam." She proudly displayed the purple stain on her finger which shows that she had voted. The election overseas has been organised in 14 countries by the International Organisation for Migration. "People have shown a great deal of commitment to the process," said Sarah Fradgley, the organisation's press officer. "We have recruited 600 polling station staff and tried to ensure there's an Arab, Kurdish and English speaker on each voting booth." Ali Naser Al-Khwildi, an election volunteer, said: "Some people are crying when they vote. Arabs and Kurds have been shaking hands and there's been dancing. Unfortunately some people are away on the hajj [pilgrimage]."
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