10:20 a.m. — The polls are closed now. Nour tells me the competition in Basra is tight between the Shia’s 169 ticket and Allawi’s slate. If true, this is surprising. Although, as Nour says, many Iraqis are fearful that the Shia are too close to Iran. The religious parties have also earned much opprobrium from Basrans for apparently financing some of their operations with fuel smuggling and drug dealing–particularly hashish. This was going on last Spring when I there, so I’m not surprised it has continued.
9:00 a.m. — al-Sistani’s representative Ali al-Hakim, chief of the Al-Abulla mosque in Basra, told Nour that al-Sistani will not vote in the elections. Seems the Grand Ayatollah never renounced his Iranian citizenship. In other words, the man who did so much to guide Iraq to this place cannot participate in the elections he helped create.
7:50 a.m. — Here’s some information from Nour in Basra. She’s working with a U.K. Guardian reporter who apparently has some contacts in the street. She tells me:
* Voting is heavy in Basra. At some sites, people are shouting out “169”–the United Iraqi Alliance ticket — and the monitors and election coordinators do the actual voting.
* Christians are apparently voting for Allawi, afraid of the domination of the religion parties.
* The Buraha region in the center of the city is voting fairly heavily for the Communist Party
* In the Sunni-T, turn out low, as expected. According to Nour’s info, 9,000 people out of Falluja’s 400,000 or so voted. She tells me one (!) man in Tikrit voted.
* She heard of 10 explosions in Baghdad. In the town of Al-Hartha, north of Basra, anti-Iraqi fascists drove a pick-up truck disguised as a police vehicle into the polling station. No word on casualities, but the site was closed.
More to come.
Posted by Steven Vincent