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Voter Turnout Strong In Nearly All Iraqi Provinces

By Kathleen Ridolfo

The Iraqi Election Commission announced about two hours before the close of polls on 30 January that voter turnout has been strong among registered voters.

Turnout nationwide was estimated to be at about 72 percent of registered voters. Sixty-five percent of registered expatriate voters have cast their ballots.

The figures are as follows in the following provinces.

Al-Najaf: 80 percent
Al-Qadisiyah: 50 percent
Al-Muthanna: 80 percent
Maysan: 92 percent
Dhi Qar: 80 percent
Al-Basrah: 66 percent
Wasit: 75 percent
Babil: 66 percent
Irbil: 60 percent
Al-Sulaymaniyah: 70 percent
Salah Al-Din: 60 percent
Kirkuk: 60 percent
Dahuk: 82 percent
Western Baghdad: 65 percent
Eastern Baghdad: 95 percent
Karbala: 90 percent
Diyala: 50 percent

The commission declined to announce figures for the Ninawah (Mosul) governorate, as well as for Al-Anbar. Officials said that the figures for voter turnout in Al-Anbar should come as a "big surprise" once they are released later. The two governorates have strong Sunni populations.

As expected, voter turnout was strongest in the Shi'ite south and northern Kurdish areas. It was also surprisingly strong in the Salah Al-Din governorate, which contains the volatile Sunni towns of Tikrit and Balad. Turnout in Diyala can also be considered good as the governorate has seen a surge in violence in recent weeks. In Al-Qadisiyah, turnout was relatively low; the governorate has seen relative calm, but is known to be a stronghold for Sunni insurgents.

Copyright (c) 2005. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org

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