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Interior Ministry Announces Election Security Measures

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Jan. 23, 2005 – The Iraqi Interior Minister announced a series of initiatives designed to improve security during the Jan. 30 elections.

Falah al Nakib said during a press conference Jan. 22 that the emergency measures are designed to improve security and advance free and fair elections. "The government is committed to taking all the legal measures to ensure safety during the election process," he said.

The weekend of the elections, Jan. 29-31, have been declared an official holiday. The interim government increased the curfew during the period. Curfew lasts from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

In addition, anyone found with personal weapons during this time will be detained.

Vehicles will be restricted during the elections, international borders will be closed and the movement of vehicles among Iraqi provinces will be restricted.

On election day itself, there will be no civilian vehicle traffic at all, and pedestrian traffic around polling places will also be restricted.

Baghdad International Airport will be closed Jan. 29 and 30.

"Certainly there are dangers and threats to confuse the election process, but we hope our security plan will be on the required level," Nakib said. "Of course, we do not rule out the possibility of escalation by the terrorist forces in this regard."

The minister said the provinces will take the general security plan and adapt it to their specific areas. He expressed confidence that the conditions in Ninewa and Anbar provinces have improved.

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