Elections under great risk: Iraqis voted amid threats

An Iraqi man named Saad proudly displayed his ink-stained finger on Sunday, after defying terrorist threats and voting in Iraq's first free election in half a century.

"We are defeating the &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/main/2002/10/26/38699.html ' target=_blank>terrorists as we are coming here," Saad said, pointing his index finger into the air. "We want to be and live like all people, like all human beings."

Saad is one of millions of Iraqis who braved the threat of insurgent attacks to take part in &to=http:// english.pravda.ru/diplomatic/2001/06/21/8352.html ' target=_blank>national elections in which voters selected a 275-member National Assembly that will choose the next president and two vice presidents, in addition to drafting the nation's constitution, reports CNN.

No car bombs were reported throughout the day thanks tointensified security measures taken by US-Iraqi forces, buthardcore insurgents wearing explosive-laden belts blew upthemselves outside several voting stations with queues of voters.

Around 14 million Iraqis, about half of the population,registered to vote in the elections. Some eligible voters did notregister either due to intimidation or because they were boycottingthe polls. But the majority say nothing can stop them fromparticipating in Sunday's elections.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) previously saidpreliminary figures indicated 72 percent of the 14 millionregistered voters turned out two hours before the polls closed.However, the organizing body later played down the turnout to about 60 percent.

Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar was among the first to voteSunday shortly after the polling stations opened at 7 a.m, says Xinhua News.

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