Sunday, January 30, 2005


Iraq's first multiparty election in half a century began at dawn on today.
The poll is intended to unite the country after the US-led defeat of dictator Saddam Hussein, but it could instead foment sectarian strife. Insurgents have vowed to create a bloodbath. Polls opened at 7am on a chilly, dark morning and were due to stay open until 5pm. Interim President Ghazi al-Yawar was one of the first to cast his vote, inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone complex. He emerged with one finger of his right hand stained with bright blue ink, used to prevent voters casting multiple ballots. He said he hoped all Iraqis would follow his lead.
Iraqi President Ghazi al-Yawar waves a stained blue finger, used to identify those who have already voted, after casting his ballot in the capital Baghdad January 30, 2005.