Thursday, December 15, 2005

Iraqi voters upbeat

Richard Beeston: On the spot: Iraqi voters upbeat

"I've just been for a walk - you can't drive anywhere because of the risk of suicide bombs - to a couple of polling stations near my hotel in Baghdad, and voting is brisk. There are lots of people turning up: old ladies being driven in by police, young couples and so on.

"Somebody described it to me as being like a wedding party, which is over the top, but there is a very relaxed mood. People were extremely optimistic that they were taking part in something that would really change the country.

"We've got staff in three areas of Baghdad and in other parts of the country, where the story seems to be the same. In Fallujah the voting is so intense and the lines so long that they've actually run out of ballot papers.

"And Iraqi television is reporting that one of the main insurgent groups here has their gunmen out providing security for a polling station in Anbar province, which is amazing - a big, big change compared to the interim election in January.

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