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Baghdad rocked by mortar fire and rockets but Iraqis are determined to vote.
The elections are widely viewed as pivotal to Iraq's future because for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, people are voting for individual candidates, writes Jane Arraf in Bagdhad. In a society where personal relationships are everything, it seems part of the reason why the polling sites are busy.
Despite the violence, voter turnout seemed to be within an anticipated range of 40 percent to 60 percent of the 19 million Iraqis registered to vote across the country. Voting also appeared to be steady in Sunni areas that boycotted the 2005 poll and then led an insurgent revolt in the face of lost political ground.
Iraq's northern region is locked in it own bitter struggle, writes Ben Gilbert from Kirkuk. Usually, fights or clashes in Kirkuk take place between the city’s largest groups: the Kurds, Arabs or Turkmen. But this time the problems were within the Kurdish community itself, and caused by the existence of a new political party, called Goran, or “Change.”
The two outside interests with the most at stake in Iraq’s parliamentary elections are the U.S. military and the major international oil companies, writes Tom Hundley from Dubai. Both are hoping the vote will yield a decisive result and produce a reasonably strong government, allowing American troops to exit and the oil companies to enter.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is trying to win a second term, has made both the troop withdrawal and the revitalization of the oil sector the centerpiece of his campaign.
Thousands of Iraqi refugees voted in neighboring Jordan. Many said they would not return to Iraq until they saw an improvement in the security and in the supply of water and electricity in their country.