Democratic Process Continues in Iraq
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 8, 2005 The voter registration period for Iraqi citizens officially ended Sept. 7. And while final results have not been compiled, estimates so far indicate a willingness by the Iraqi people to participate in the political process, a military spokesman in Baghdad, Iraq, said today.
In Samarra alone, more new voters registered this past month than voted in the January elections, said Army Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, a Multinational Force Iraq spokesman. Another example of the Iraqi people's enthusiasm was in Mosul, where more than 500,000 people double-checked to ensure they were registered, he said.
"They want to be engaged in the political process," he said. "The Iraqis have every intention of making their voices heard and for democracy to take hold here in Iraq."
In an effort to promote participation in the Oct. 15 referendum and subsequent elections in December, members of the Iraqi National Assembly are traveling to cities throughout the country for discussions with local political leaders and town hall meetings with citizens, Lynch said. These meetings also help to educate Iraqis about the constitution so they can make an informed decision when the time comes, he said.
To further educate Iraqis, copies of the draft constitution are going to be printed and disseminated by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, Lynch said.
"It is important that all Iraqis participate in the political process, understand the provisions of the draft constitution and exercise their right to vote in the upcoming referendum," he said.
As the political process moves forward, military and security operations continue to provide the necessary backdrop for democracy, Lynch said. Operations in Anbar province have been successful in slowing the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq and disrupting insurgent activities, he said.
"It is clear that we have the insurgents on the run," he said. "We will not allow the terrorists to establish safe havens anywhere in Iraq."
In the past week, 14 brigade-level operations were conducted throughout Iraq, all with a combination of Iraqi security forces and coalition forces, Lynch said. Attack trends have been down overall, he said, and in Baghdad attacks were down 20 percent.