The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
There is a campaign of violence and intimidation underway in Iraq. It is aimed at preventing Iraqis from voting in the January 30th elections.
On that day, the Iraqi people will be choosing two-hundred-seventy-five members of a transitional national assembly. The assembly will select a new government and draft a constitution before the end of 2005. The constitution will then be submitted to the Iraqi people in a referendum.
The Iraqi interim government is taking steps so that Iraqis can safely get to the polls. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says that the U.S.-led coalition supports these efforts:
"We recognize that there are still those trying to intimidate voters and make it difficult to vote. Nonetheless, there are some six-thousand polling places being established in Iraq. There are some fourteen-million voters on the list. And we think they should have this opportunity."
"Going to the polling stations is a victory for the Iraqi people," Ali Danif, a Baghdad resident, told a reporter. Jamal Karim, also of Baghdad, said, "The elections are more important than the candidates." And, said Heidar Mohammed, "A country will not find progress without making sacrifices."
State Department spokesman Boucher says that affording the opportunity to vote to so many Iraqis is an achievement:
"That's a major step forward along the timeline that was planned for the Iraqis to take on more and more authority, more and more responsibility for their future. This [vote] leads to a transitional assembly that will write an Iraqi constitution, and then there'll be another election towards the end of the year."
"Most people feel they are living in darkness," says Kadhim Hassan, an Iraqi writer. "Now," says Mr. Hassan, "It's time for us to come into the light."