In Najaf, voters shrugged off a car bomb yesterday that killed at least three pilgrims near the the city’s holy shrine to cast their votes.
“It is the fate of our country and the future of our children that is being decided. This is something we have to do,” says Mohammad Hussein, a laborer. Mr Hussein placed his ballot in a clear plastic box and then dipped his finger into indelible purple ink to prove that he had voted. He also had his own two small sons dip their own fingers the ink to mark the historic occasion.
By midday about half of approximately 3,000 registered voters had cast their ballots before a lunchtime lull, officials at one polling station told a UN team providing support for the elections.
“All of them are expecting and waiting for a change, that is the most important thing,” said Jerzy Skuratowicz, the deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, during a previous stop west of Baghdad in Anbar Province.
Unemployment is estimated at over 50 percent among young people in Anbar Province – a majority Sunni province that was the center of the insurgency early in the war.
In Anbar and other places, an Al Qaeda-affiliated group imposed a curfew on voting day to try to intimidate voters from going to the polls.