Iraqis unsure of Jan. 30 vote feasibility

Jan. 5, 2005 at 11:15 AM
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BAGHDAD, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- Iraqi extremists' escalating violence could be working as the country's interim president has expressed doubts about holding national elections Jan. 30.

Tuesday, Ghazi al-Yawer suggested the United Nations should step in to determine whether elections should or even could be held on time, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

However British Prime Minister Tony Blair insisted the elections must go ahead, telling BBC Radio that any postponement would be a victory for the insurgents.

The uncertainty is growing in proportion to the scale and frequency of insurgent attacks, which Tuesday saw the assassination of the governor of Baghdad and a bloody attack on a police station.

The growing insecurity has already diminished participation in the elections, the newspaper said. There are virtually no party workers out canvassing in the capital and some parties have not even announced a candidate list for fear their members will be targeted.

U.S. officials are also concerned less than half of Iraqis understand the election process, wherein they will not be voting for a president, but rather for members of an assembly, which will in turn elect the national leader.

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