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Latest update : 2010-03-15

Voting for a fresh start in Iraq

On March 7th, Iraqis went to the polls in the second general election since the fall of Saddam Hussein. A turning point towards peace? Our special correspondents Robert Parsons and Willy Bracciano were in Baghdad to follow this crucial election.

After decades of dictatorship, war, bombardment, invasion and sectarian strife, a chance at last for Iraq to turn a page on the past and look to a future of peace, tolerance and democratic governance. That, at least, is how the optimists presented last weekend's parliamentary elections.

Iraqis - ordinary voters and insurgents alike - appear to have agreed - at least in part - but to have drawn very different conclusions.

The remnants of al-Qaeda in Iraq, sensing that the tide is turning against them, vowed to drown the election in a sea of blood.
And true to their word, on election day they unleashed a barrage of bombs and suicide attacks on Baghdad.

But the story on 7th March was not the bombs or the tragic death of another 38 people but the 62 per cent of the electorate who defied the bombers to vote. They went to the ballot boxes with their friends and families - some carrying their children or pushing prams.

We take a look back at a week in which the Iraqi people took a big step towards seizing control of their own destiny.

By Robert PARSONS , Willy BRACCIANO

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