Iraqi election watch

A British military plane has crashed north of Baghdad. No details yet.

UPDATE: The UK’s Press Association newswire quoted military sources in Iraq as saying
the transport plane rarely travels north of Baghdad.

The sources said the aircraft is primarily used to ferry troops from the British
sector headquarters in Basra, the main southern city, to the Iraqi capital.

The coalition military press office in Baghdad said the aircraft crashed
northwest of Baghdad at 4.40 pm Iraq time (1340 GMT).

UPDATE:Tony Blair announces “casualties,” but won’t say how many.

UPDATE: Now reporting 10-15 deaths. Sounds like a possible VIP flight.

Bush said both U.S. and British military personnel had lost their lives on Sunday.

This site is aggregating posts from selected weblogs on Iraq.

Words From Iraq

Al Jazeera reports:

Polling stations in several towns in Iraq have not opened five hours after nationwide voting started on Sunday, the country’s electoral commission said.

“In Latifiya, Mahmudiya and Yusufiya, polling stations have not yet opened their doors,” commission spokesman Farid Ayar told reporters.

“As you know, Latifiya, Mahmudiya and Yusufiya are hotspots. We have allowed residents of these areas to vote in the nearest polling station” to the towns, said another member of the commission.
No employees turned up at polling centres in Samarra and police were not to be seen on the streets, an agency correspondent reported.

Al Jazeera reports one vote in Fallujah, and in Mosul US soldiers were seen driving around city blocks asking why residents were not voting.

Polls to close an hour early in Iraq

Nobody is saying why.

Various spinners are touting a figure of 72% turnout in the Iraqi election, calling it a “revolution.” AP elaborates on the source of that factoid:

Iraq voter turnout placed at 72 percent


BAGHDAD, Iraq — An Iraqi election official said Sunday that 72 percent of eligible Iraqi voters had turned out so far nationwide.

The official, Adel al-Lami of the Independent Electoral Commission, offered no overall figures of the actual number of Iraqis who have voted to back up the claim.

Al-Lami said the percentage of registered voters who had gone to the polls in some Baghdad neighborhoods was as high as 95 percent.

Iraqi officials had predicted that up to eight million of 14 million eligible voters – just over 57 percent – will turn out for Sunday’s election to choose a National Assembly and governing councils in the 18 provinces.

Earlier, the top U.S. adviser to commission, Carlos Valenzuela, offered a much more cautious assessment, saying turnout appeared to be high in many areas, but that it was too early to know for sure.

There has been little sign of voters in some heavily Sunni areas, such as the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi, according to witnesses. But Valenzuela said earlier that some voters had shown up in the two cities.

Clearly “AN” election official has absolutely no evidence for this assertion. Toss it in the Spin bucket.

For those of you watching the Iraqi elections, here are some bloggers trying to live blog them. Chris Albritton is in Baghdad. Something to watch for if you’re watching TV coverage:

I’m watching CNN International, and the shots of long lines and happy voters are almost all coming from Iraqi Kurdistan where the voters are motivated and the environment is (relatively) safe. The rub is that CNNi is not identifying the images as coming from Kurdistan; the only way I knew it was from up north was the single shot of someone waving a Kurdish flag. But if you don’t know what the flag looks like (red, white and green bars with a yellow starburst in the center), as I suspect most Americans don’t, you wouldn’t know the context of these images. Shi’ites are also coming out in droves in the south. But Sunnis are staying home. I will be surprised if the Sunni vote hits double digits at this point.

I’ll update this post with election news as I find it.

At this point, it appears that there have been 9 suicide bombs. Chris says:

Nine suicide bombs in Baghdad alone, with at least 20 dead. A bomb went off near the home of the Justice Minister. There are a number of outgoing mortars from my neighborhood in the last 10 minutes.

BBC Reporter’s log: An entry from Hugh Sykes, Baghdad –

For the people of the district of Muthana, in eastern Baghdad this is not a good morning. The polling station opened at 7am this morning. I was here talking to early voters who were cheerful and optimistic.

We went off to have breakfast at the millitary base where I’m embedded and coming back we were told there had been a suicide bomb attack in this comfortable residential neighbourhood.

Across the road from me lies the naked torso of the suicide bomber. His arms and his head were blown off. Around the corner is the body of the bomber’s only victim – a young man lying motionless in the road, with blood flowing from a large hole in his head.

I heard a bang a few minutes ago which has now been confirmed as another suicide bomb.

(BBC)Fadel Al-Badrani : Fallujah : 1103 GMT – There are two or three places open for voting in Falluja. One place I can see is inside the public park.

There a few people standing, are proceeding to cast their votes but their number is less than the fingers of one hand.

I don’t find any Iraqi blogs updating. The US sponsored “Friends of Democracy” site, which was touted as live-blogged election coverage hasn’t been updated since before 9 PM yesterday. Their “Voter Turnout” page was last updated on January 14.

Ali, the blogger who left the Iraq the Model blog (last updated January 28) after being betrayed by the above mentioned US group that sponsors the Fadhil brothers’ NGO “Friends of Democracy,” posts that he’s headed out to vote in Baghdad. No word on his return yet.

Ali is back and has described his day.