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Iraqis Go to Polls in Historic Election

30 January 2005

Polls are open across Iraq, where Iraqis are voting under tight security for a new national assembly in the country's first free elections in decades.

Among the first to vote Sunday was Iraq's interim president, Ghazi al-Yawar, who cast his ballot in Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. The president urged all Iraqis to take part in the election, which he says is Iraq's first step "toward joining the free world."

Election officials say more than 5,200 polling stations are open nationwide for Iraq's 14 million eligible voters.

Cities were sealed off and a curfew was imposed before the vote, to counter insurgents who have vowed to turn the election into a bloodbath.

Despite the unprecedented security measures, violent attacks killed 17 Iraqis on Saturday. A rocket attack killed two Americans at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad's Green Zone.

President Bush says the elections will mark the beginning of peace and prosperity in Iraq.

Thousands of Iraqis living abroad have cast votes in 14 countries from Australia to Europe to the United States.

Some information provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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