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Civil Affairs Group works with local government to promote voting in Iraq

Marine Corps News

Story Identification #: 200512111819
Story by Cpl. Joel A. Chaverri

CAMP Al QA’IM, Iraq (Jan 21, 2005) -- Marines from the 4th Civil Affairs Group met with the mayor of the local city of Al Qa’im Jan. 15 to discuss the upcoming vote and future of Iraq’s government.

The meeting, held in a safe location outside of the town, was to gain a better understanding of what the local Iraqi’s need from the military to best support the elections.

“We try to get a feeling of what the local people want by speaking with their leadership,” said the officer-in-charge, Civil Affairs Team 1, Detachment 4-2, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. “We really want to show them that we care for their future.”

In preparation of the elections, hundreds of pamphlets were produced by the United Nations and given to the Mayor as a resource to pass out to the local people.

These handbills include various information about the elections, encouraging the people to use exercise their free right to vote.

“Thank you very much for all of your help,” said Raja Nuwaf Farhan, mayor of Al Qa’im, during the meeting. “The people of Iraq are very grateful.”

The right to vote is only one of the many freedoms soon to be enjoyed by the people of Iraq throughout the upcoming years.

“We go house to house and ask everyone how they are doing,” said the Major. “The general response is that they are happy and excited about being able to vote.”

The Marine Corps is also working hand-in-hand with the Iraqi National Guard to provide safe voting grounds for the elections.

“We want to make sure everything is as secure a possible,” said an ING colonel. “We are ready to die for our country if we have to.”

The elections are just one more step for the Iraqis as they take charge of their country and realize their newly earned freedoms.

“These people just aren’t used to freedom. Most don’t understand what it means to vote for a leader,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Daniel A. Sierra, information operations chief, 31st MEU. “We want assist in teaching them how to be self sufficient and take care of themselves when we leave.”

“We try to get people to understand that we are here to help, not to hurt,” he said. “We want a free Iraq for the people.”

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