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UN election advisor says Iraq vote going well

"According to first reports, participation seems to be exceeding expectations in some parts of the country, said Carlos Valenzuela.
PTI | By Press Trust of India, Baghdad
UPDATED ON JAN 30, 2005 04:18 PM IST

The UN's election advisor in Iraq said on Sunday that turnout was exceeding expectations, noting that voters were lining up at polls even in the rebel-plagued northern city of Mosul.

"According to first reports we're getting, participation seems to be exceeding expectations in some parts" of the country, said Carlos Valenzuela. "So far so good."

Valenzuela noted that people were queuing up even in the northern city of Mosul, which has been torn by violence for months.

"In Mosul, there are even people lining up," Valenzuela said. Iraqi and US security forces had braced for great violence in Iraq for the country's first free elections in half-a-century and had deployed extensive security measures, including curfews and bans on vehicle traffic.

So far an array of suicide bombings and mortar strikes have killed 16 people, but the level of violence has not deterred people from voting.

The UN advisor noted that some polls had not opened initially around western Baghdad and the stretch of Sunni towns south of the capital, known as the Triangle of Death, but said the problem "was solved."

He did not go into detail on the difficulties in the areas that have been known as bastions of the insurgency.

Valenzuela, who has spent 13 years planning elections in trouble spots around the globe, has consistently expressed optimism over Iraq's elections despite the difficult security situation on the ground.

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