Iraq to close borders, to ban cars, to deploy thousands during vote

Sunni Arabs who boycotted the last provincial elections will attend the elections.

Iraq to close borders, to ban cars, to deploy thousands during vote
Iraq will seal its borders, shut airports, ban vehicles and deploy thousands of security forces when people go to the polls on Saturday to choose provincial leaders, officials said on Monday.

Iraqis will be voting for the first time in three years.

Sunni Arabs who boycotted the last provincial elections will attend the elections.

"We have enough security forces, they are well trained and they will protect every single one of the polling stations," Major-General Aydin Khalid, head of Iraq's electoral security committee, told a news conference in Baghdad.

A vehicle ban will take effect from 10 a.m. (0700 GMT) on Thursday and be lifted at 5 a.m. (0200 GMT) on Sunday, Feb. 1, he said. Only vehicles belonging to electoral officials, security forces and accredited media will be exempt.

"People can move very freely but they must walk," Khalid said.

The election will choose provincial councils in 14 of Iraq's 18 provinces. The councils in turn pick powerful governors.

Around 15 million of Iraq's approximately 28 million people have registered to vote, including more than 700,000 of the roughly 2.5 million Iraqis internally displaced after being driven from their homes after US occupation.

Only police, not the military, will be allowed in or near polling stations, Khalid said.

Soldiers will be deployed in force, but away from the voting centres.

The roughly 140,000 U.S. troops in Iraq "will stay in their barracks", although Khalid said "they would be on stand-by to help Iraqi forces if requested to do so in an emergency."

In greater Baghdad alone, some 80,000 security agents will be deployed to prevent violence at 1,735 polling stations, the capital's security spokesman Qassim al-Moussawi said.


Reuters

Last Mod: 27 Ocak 2009, 14:37
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