Iraqi Governors Address Election Concerns
Tikrit, Iraq -- Governors of north-central Iraq provinces and the commander of the 1st Infantry Division expressed their hope about Sunday's national elections during a press conference at Forward Operating Base Danger Jan. 26.
"This country has incredible potential that I know it is going to realize, and the first step is the elections," said Maj. Gen. John R.S. Batiste, 1st ID commander.
The 1st ID has been in north-central Iraq for about a year and will help provide security for the elections.
Batiste said Iraqi Security Forces had done a splendid job of preparing for Sunday.
"The security of election materials and ballots is a major portion.of security developed by Iraqi Security Forces," Batiste said. "Security for the polling sites has been worked out in great detail by the Iraqi Security Forces."
The governors and their deputies predicted that between 60 and 90 percent of those eligible to vote in Salah Ad Din and Diyala provinces would do so. Salah Ad Din Deputy Governor Abdullah Hussein Jubarra al-Jubbari, pointed out that by contrast, just 49 percent of eligible voters turned out for the 2004 U.S. presidential elections.
"We are optimistic that Iraqis are eager to participate," Abdullah said. "It is the right of the citizens to vote or not to vote. I expect that most of our citizens in Kirkuk are going to vote."
How long Multi-National Forces will stay after the vote will depend on the security situation, Abdullah added.
"Ninety percent of what has been destroyed in this country was not done by the United States," he said. "The chaos and destruction that followed the downfall of the previous regime necessitated the assistance of the Multi-National Forces to overcome the bad situation."
Abdullah, a Sunni Muslim, dismissed talk that a Sunni boycott would reduce the election's credibility
"Any boycott will have an insignificant impact on the National Assembly and the whole process," he said. (Story by Sgt. W. Wayne Marlow, 1st Infantry Division Public Affairs Office)
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