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Millions of Iraqis vote in election
The votes are being counted in Iraq's first democratic election in decades. It is estimated that 60 percent of the population, about 8 million people, voted. This report from Paul Wood:
The votes were counted overnight, often in candlelight because of power cuts. Millions of Iraqis turned out to vote in defiance of threats from insurgents. There was even a baby born in a polling station to an expectant mother determined that nothing would stop her from casting a ballot. President Bush called it a resounding success. The size of the turnout may have surprised even the White House since before the poll began officials had been briefing that just to hold an election at all was an achievement, whatever the numbers voting. That statement still holds true for Sunni areas, for places like Fallujah, where people literally risked their lives to vote, albeit in small numbers.
The Iraqi electoral commission told us that even in these Sunni areas turnout was higher than expected, although they had no figures. The final figures for turnout and the certified results of this election may not be available for another ten days. After that a new government will be formed. It will oversee the writing of a new constitution and a status of forces agreement with the coalition, making clear that British and American troops will one day withdraw from Iraq.
Paul Wood, Middle East correspondent, Baghdad
in defiance of
casting a ballot
a resounding success
still holds true