Biggest step still to come for Iraqis

What others say

Posted: Thursday, February 03, 2005

Upon hearing an explosion apparently caused by terrorists, a middle-aged man in Baghdad headed for a polling station, saying, ''I will challenge the criminals.'' In Mosul in the northern part of Iraq, a Sunni leader went to a polling station earlier than anybody else, declaring that casting a ballot was a citizen's duty, and thus moving his fellow citizens to action.

In Kirkuk in an oil-producing region, the Kurds celebrated the election with an ethnic dance. In Basra in the south, Shiite women in black chador formed long lines around polling stations.

News media sent reports to the world about the eagerness of the Iraqi people to build a new nation with their own hands in the face of fierce violence by insurgents.

According to an estimate by the independent election management commission, voter turnout in the election to pick an interim National Assembly held under tight security reached approximately 60 percent. This is an outcome by which the interim government can claim legitimacy.

Arab TV stations, which are often heavily tinged with anti-American and anti-occupation sentiment, reported on the enthusiasm of voters who went to polling stations. Their reporters were amazed by the free election — a rarity in the Arab world — and highly praised the process in their reports.

The Asahi Shimbun has criticized the Iraq war and the Iraq policy of the U.S. administration of George W. Bush. But we have wished the Iraqis great success in the election. We admire the strong will of the Iraqis for standing on their own feet. The question now is how to harness such a will to build a stable nation.

— Asahi Shimbun (Tokyo)

Feb. 1

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