Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

** Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches **

** **

Vote Where, How, and for Whom?

Inter Press Service
Dahr Jamail

*BAGHDAD, Jan 26 (IPS) - With elections just four days away, many Iraqis
are still uncertain how they will vote, or even where the polling
stations are.*

The only certainty appears to be violence. Another political
assassination took place when judge Qais Hashim al-Shammari was killed
with his brother-in-law as he was leaving his house in eastern Baghdad

At least six U.S. soldiers have been killed in Baghdad this week. One
soldier died when a roadside bomb struck his patrol Monday. Five
soldiers died in what the military described as a ”vehicle accident”.

A car bomb exploded the same day near the party headquarters of interim
prime minister Iyad Allawi. At least five people, four of them police
officers, died in the blast.

In Baquba, north of Baghdad, party political offices were attacked
Tuesday. At least one policeman was killed.

Amidst such incidents people are guessing games around polling stations
and candidates. It appears now that polling stations will be located in
school buildings. The high commission for elections of Iraq has still
not announced the location of polling stations due to security fears,
but many school buildings around Baghdad are being cordoned off with
sand barriers, concrete blocks and razor wire.

”I feel unsafe in my own home now, even more than before,” said Hashim
al-Obeidy, a retired engineer. A school building near his house is being
prepared as a polling station. ”I watched the American soldiers building
these barriers. And now I am afraid mortars will hit my home if the
school is attacked.”

Standing outside his house in central Baghdad, he pointed to a row of
large sand barriers outside an old yellow school building with damaged
walls and cracked paint. ”They already severely damaged our school
system, they haven't rebuilt anything, and now they will create more
destruction in the schools,” he said.

”I would be crazy to vote, it's so dangerous now,” said 45-year-old
guard Salman at another barricaded school building being prepared as a
polling station. Most residents do not know yet which school they could
go to vote in.

Many Iraqis continue to express frustration over what they see as
illegitimate elections.

Prof. Shawket Daoud, a computer science specialist who now works for the
government, said uncertainty over polling booths and the fear of
violence was not the only problem. ”Why vote when we don't even know who
is running yet?”

More than 7,000 candidates on the electoral lists have opted to remain
anonymous prior to polling day. At least eight political leaders thought
to be candidates have been killed. Many others receive death threats.

But some Iraqis still say they will vote. ”I'll vote because I can't
afford to have my food ration cut,” said Amin Hajar, 52, who owns a
small auto garage in Baghdad. ”There is a rumour that if we don't vote
our ration will be stopped. And if that happened, I and my family would
starve to death.”

He said that when he picked up his monthly food ration recently, he was
forced to sign a form saying he had picked up his voter registration. He
believes that the government may use this to track whether he votes or not.

This rumor has circulated broadly around Baghdad even though there
appears to be no truth in it.

Abu Sabah, a grocery stall owner near the Karrada district of Baghdad
says he is simply confused about the election. The elections feel rushed
and a list of at least 83 coalitions of political parties with mostly
anonymous candidates makes no sense, he says.

”Who says we should have elections for people we don't even know during
occupation, martial law and in a war zone,” he said. ”And why vote when
we're expected to vote for an entire list of candidates when we only
know, if we're lucky, one or two of their names?”


Post a Comment

<< Home