The following is an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government:
"Let the polls be our answer to the car bombings and insecurity," reads one election poster in Iraq. Terrorists, former Saddam Hussein regime members, and common criminals are trying to prevent Iraqis from voting on January 30th for a two-hundred-seventy-five member national assembly. They will not succeed.
Iyad Allawi, Iraq's interim prime minister, says he sees the election "as the beginning of a gigantic political process that will lead...to full democracy, rule of law, respect of human rights and participation of all Iraqis regardless of their religious, ethnic or political background."
John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, says this will be the country's "first free election":
"They're going to be moving from an appointed to an elected government. They're going to draft a constitution which will then be passed upon by a referendum next October, and then elections for a definitive government in December. So this is a very important and exciting political process and we detect a lot of interest and enthusiasm on the part of the people of Iraq for what lies ahead."
Mr. Negroponte says many fourteen million Iraqis are eligible to vote:
"There will be a good turnout in the north and in the south, and as far as the central part of the country, there are a couple of provinces which are problematic, but even there every effort is being made to ensure that there is sufficient security so that as many people can vote as possible. A lot of priority is being devoted to security, securing the ballots, locations, not only in the Sunni triangle but throughout the country."
"January 30th elections, says Ambassador Negroponte, "are a watershed in Iraq's political development."