Factbox: Iraqi, analyst comment on election in Iraq

(BestGrowthStock) – Iraqis went to the polls on Sunday in a parliamentary election that Sunni Islamist insurgents tried to derail with attacks that killed at least 38 people.

Here are some comments on the election by Iraqi politicians, voters and independent analysts:

JALAL TALABANI, PRESIDENT AND KURDISH POLITICIAN

Today is a historic day and the winner is the Iraqi people — Kurds, Arabs and all other minorities. I hope the election will pass off peacefully and that everyone respects its results.

NURI AL-MALIKI, PRIME MINISTER AND SHI’ITE POLITICIAN

I urge all politicians to accept the results. He who wins today may lose tomorrow and he who loses today may win tomorrow.

Of course the political map will change and the process of change started with the (January 2009) provincial elections.

HOSHIYAR ZEBARI, FOREIGN MINISTER AND KURDISH POLITICIAN

These (attacks) were anticipated, and these attacks were random. They will not be able to deter the voters. They threatened the voters that they would wash the streets with their blood and still they defied them.

AMAR AL-HAKIM, SHI’ITE HEAD OF SUPREME ISLAMIC IRAQI COUNCIL

Today is an epic day. Today is the day that Iraqis will start to express their opinions. Today is the day when Iraqis speak while others keep silent. Today is the call of conscience, homeland and marja’iya (Shi’ite religious authority). We are living amid hope and optimism. I hope this day will turn into a violet revolution (a reference to voters’ ink-stained fingers).

MOQTADA AL-SADR, ANTI-U.S. SHI’ITE CLERIC AND POLITICIAN

Although holding elections under the shadow of occupation does not have legitimacy, I ask the Iraqi people to take part as an act of political resistance so that the ground is prepared for occupiers to leave Iraq.

BAGHDAD SECURITY SPOKESMAN MAJOR GENERAL QASSIM AL-MOUSSAWI

The terrorists are trying to send a message to the Iraqi people to prevent them from heading to the ballot stations, but the brave Iraqi people understood this message and responded by going in big numbers to vote.

We are in a state of combat. We are operating in a battlefield and our warriors are expecting the worst.

U.S. MILITARY SPOKESMAN MAJOR GENERAL STEVE LANZA

The effect we’ve had on the network (of insurgents), the preparations the Iraqi security forces have done certainly minimized the damage today, the amount of attacks. What you saw today is a large attempt to try to dissuade the population, to intimidate the population from voting, and they were not successful.

U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN A STATEMENT

We mourn the tragic loss of life today, and honor the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people who once again defied threats to advance their democracy.

U.N. SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE AD MELKERT

It is terrible that lives have been lost but it doesn’t change the course of the Iraqis. There are no perfect elections. There will be issues but they are serious elections and many Iraqis have participated with great conviction.

This is big day of hope for Iraq. Not everything will be done through the elections but this a good step.

DAVID MILIBAND, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY

It is too early to reach a conclusion on the freedom and fairness of the election or on turnout, but I can say that initial reports are encouraging and that we and our EU partners will be fair and open in our final assessment.

GALA RIANI, IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT ANALYST

In the absence of preliminary results, Iraq’s landmark elections should be judged on the resolve of Iraqis, across sectarian and ethno-national divides, to defy threats of violence and vote for their second permanent government since Saddam’s fall. As had been feared, the day was marred by violence. However, attacks carried out before polls closed were those of an insurgency struggling to make its capacity known, not one capable of derailing the vote.

REIDAR VISSER, IRAQ EXPERT, WWW.HISTORIAE.ORG

So far the figures of participation that have been reported in Iraq seem relatively modest, in the range of 50 to 60 percent. In general, the ethno-sectarian parties that performed strongly in 2005 are best organized and better able to rally their electorates, which may give them an advantage in a context of overall low turnout.

The election campaign has been a disappointment after the progress seen in the local elections in January 2009. In many ways, the real contest will begin with the coalition-forming process after the results have been published.

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL

STUDIES IN WASHINGTON

The real election result will not be known for several years. The first test will be forming a government and whether it will have a national character and move toward political accommodation between Sunni and Shi’ite, and Arab and Kurd — something that will not be clear until late 2010 at the earliest.

The second will be to show it actually governs effectively, moves out of the current budget crisis and starts solid development — something we will not begin to know before 2011.

The third test will be showing that the government and Iraqi forces can really provide security and stability once U.S. forces leave at the end of 2011. We won’t know this until late 2012 at the earliest.

SHAKER MAHMOUD JASSEM, VOTER IN SOUTHERN CITY OF BASRA

We made a mistake as Sunnis by not participating in the last election. Our participation now is to correct the wrong situation imposed on us by some political and religious leaders.

MUTAR ABED, GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE IN SUNNI PROVINCE OF ANBAR

I pray every day to see a good man come to power to save us from the sufferings we are living. Explosions and killing occur every day. All we want is a good man.

SHATHA AL-HUSSEINI, 23, UNIVERSITY STUDENT IN BASRA

The government started us down the road of services, security and election achievements and my vote today is to give it a chance to complete the achievement. Our country is in ruins and what was achieved in difficult circumstances met some aspirations.

BADRI HURMUZ, 74, VOTING NEAR NORTHERN CITY OF MOSUL

We gave our votes for Kurdistan … We don’t care about Baghdad. This is Kurdistan.

ABDUL-WAHED HASSAN, 51, IN BAGHDAD’S SHI’ITE SADR CITY

We hope for the unity of Iraq and that the situation changes for the better. I voted for Maliki because we witnessed security and stability during his time. We just fear some of the radical factions in this country.

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(Compiled by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Michael Christie and Samia Nakhoul)

Factbox: Iraqi, analyst comment on election in Iraq