Workers taken to polling sites under cover of darkness

  • AseanPlus News
  • Sunday, 30 Jan 2005

MOSUL: Hundreds of Iraqi election workers along with voting material were transported yesterday by US soldiers to polling sites around here amid intense security measures in this restive northern city. 

With the milestone vote only hours away, they were all given about two hours of training and promised the equivalent of US$500 (RM1,900) for their effort. 

Umm Alaa, 40, is the only woman inside a huge tented gym and recreation facility at a US base swarming with nearly 500 rowdy male election workers, most of them flown in hours before from Baghdad or southern Shi'ite areas. 

She and 23 other women from her native Shi'ite city of Hilla, south of Baghdad, were supposed to work in Ramadi, west of the capital, but she was separated from them after she missed her flight and ended up instead in Mosul, another tense, predominantly Sunni Muslim city. 

“We must all lend a helping hand to our bleeding nation,” said the feisty mother of two, wrapped up in a traditional black abaya and seated on top of her travel bag. 

Nearby, a man with a loudspeaker drills a group of frenzied men huddled on the floor with last-minute instructions on how to verify the age of prospective voters today. 

Most said they were motivated to do this by their patriotic duty, the orders of Shi'ite spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani to take part in the elections and their dire economic and living conditions. 

The US soldiers are part of a contingent of more than 4,000 special forces members and commandos sent from Baghdad to help secure the elections here. – AFP 

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