Iraqis Want to Vote in Jan. 30 Elections,
By Jim Garamone
People in Iraq want to vote in the elections for the country’s
national assembly on Jan. 30, the commander of coalition forces
in Ninewa province said at a news conference.
Gen. Carter Ham, Task Force Olympia commander, said anecdotal
evidence suggests Iraqis in Mosul "have the desire to vote.
But they don’t yet know how, or the mechanisms. We’ve got to work
Ham said the
coalition is working with the Independent Election Commission
of Iraq to solve those problems. Elections were dealt a setback
in November when the police force in Mosul – a city of 2
million people – melted before insurgent attacks.
said, he believes the mechanisms will be in place for those who
want to vote. "The greatest problem will be to overcome (the
insurgent) intimidation," he said. "We must convince
the average Iraqi that on the morning of the 30th it will be safe
for him, his wife and his family to walk outside his house and
vote without the fear of being attacked."
Ham said the
turnout in the countryside will be higher than in Mosul. But even
in the city, it will be high in some neighborhoods and low in
others. "I hesitate to put a percentage on it," he said.
Ham said his
troops – members of Task Force Olympia – will work
to destroy insurgent cells and to stop insurgent intimidation.
Ham said that holding the election in Ninewa "will not be
easy, but it will be done."
12,000 multinational forces are in the province. Iraqi soldiers
and National Guardsmen are coming in from other parts of the country.
"The challenge we all have in Mosul right now," he said,
"is absent the credible and capable police force that is
necessary in a city that large, the lack is being compensated
by additional resources — the army and the National Guard …
special police forces and intervention forces and other forces
from the Ministry of the Interior. All told, (the additional resources
add up to) about 12,000, and about 4,000 are from outside the
On the day
of the election, Ham said, there will be enough Iraqi security
forces in Mosul to protect the polling stations. About 1,000 to
1,200 police did not run away in November, and they are still
on the job. The 12,000 Iraqi army soldiers and National Guardsmen
will make up the difference.
forces will respond to circumstances that the Iraqi forces cannot
handle, Ham said. "We will support those security forces,
help them with area security, provide quick-reaction forces and
to help set the conditions in the days leading up to the elections
so we can make the situation as stable as we can make it,"
Ham said that
some of the insurgents in Mosul have come from Fallujah. "Our
first warning about this came from a special police unit that
had quite a battle with some insurgents," Ham said during
a later interview with American Forces Press Service. "They
recognized the speech patterns and told us ‘Hey, these guys are
Ham also said
there is some evidence that insurgents in Mosul are receiving
money and other aid from former regime members in Syria.