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Multi-National Force-Iraq update: January 12, 2005

"Iraqi security and Coalition forces are actively pursuing terrorists and insurgents to cement conditions for elections on January 30." -- Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Commanding General, MNF-I.
. Nationwide, 16 of 18 provinces could hold elections today. In other areas, getting to election day will not be without challenges. Nonetheless, Iraqis who want to vote will have the opportunity.
. Terrorist attacks are down 40 percent from their November peak, and slightly above the levels of last spring, before the transfer of sovereignty. Fourteen of 18 provinces have four or fewer violent incidents per day.
. Iraqi security and Coalition forces are on the offensive across Iraq to cement the success of Fallujah, conducting operations to pursue and defeat terrorists.
. Iraqi security forces and the Coalition working together are setting security conditions to ensure credible elections on January 30, the date agreed upon by the Iraqi government and the UN.
. Terrorists are waging a war of purposeful disenfranchisement, trying to intimidate Iraqis from exercising their right to vote. They fear democracy and the day when the Iraqi people vote for a representative government.
. We expect the terrorists to increase attempts to disrupt the elections, but as they failed in Afghanistan, they will fail in Iraq.
. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) is responsible for coordinating the electoral process. The Iraqi government is lead agency for elections security for approximately 5,500 polling locations, with MNF-I supporting the government's security efforts.
. Any attack on election process is an attack on the future of the Iraqi people.
. There is good coordination between the IECI and the Multi-National Forces.

The Iraqi people want a government of their choosing.
. More than 80 percent of the citizens of Iraq want to vote in the historic January election, which is for 275 national assembly seats. Those elected will write a national constitution. Elections for the Kurdish Regional Assembly and 18 provincial councils will occur on the same day.
. 111 entities have registered to campaign for one or more national assembly seats in the January election.
. The IECI estimates that 80 percent of Iraqis eligible to vote are registered.
. Most Iraqis think their country is headed in the right direction (64 percent). Some polls show between 60 and 70 percent of Iraqis approve of their government and their security forces.
. Boycotts alone are not likely to affect the legitimacy of elections.

The rebuilding of Iraq is accelerating.
. More than 1,400 new projects from the Iraq reconstruction fund, worth some $4 billion, had started by December 31, 2004, up from 230 projects in June.
. US government project completions include: 66 security projects (such as police stations and border facilities), 111 health care facilities, 84 essential services projects (oil, water, electricity and transportation) and 2,535 schools built and rehabilitated.
. Approximately 135,000 Iraqis are employed by US government projects of all types.

Release #050118A*



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