Ninewa province steps up for election weekend
February 10, 2009
MOSUL, Iraq - After weeks of preparation, the northern Iraq province of Ninewah held their elections Jan. 31 alongside the majority of the country.
Maj. Gen. Abdulla Abdul Karim Satter Abbas, the 2nd Iraqi Army Division commanding general spent the days surrounding the elections touring the schools and community buildings to be used as polling sites.
IA battalion commanders proudly displayed the polling sites in their area, pointing out details and explaining the operations planned for the big day. Workers could be seen sweeping hallways and cleaning up trash.
Abdulla gave direction to one site manager that the voters should be spread out while they waited in line, with the women separated from the men. At another site, he instructed that signs be made to make the voting process move more smoothly.
Iraqi Security Forces were prepared for a weekend busy with insurgent activity and had plans set for numerous attack scenarios. A curfew had been set, for example, restricting civilian vehicle movement from Friday morning to Saturday night to prevent the placement of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. In the end, however the days surrounding the elections were quiet, with children taking advantage of the newly emptied streets for a game of soccer.
"Coalition Forces came with us to check the polling sites and saw how our Soldiers are ready to protect the city," he said.
CF conducted security patrols and battle field circulations with a significant change to their operations. They were instructed to avoid the polling centers. Cautionary tape was strung across sidewalks and CF troops weren't allowed inside the buildings.
Zuhain Al Araji, the mayor of Mosul toured the city, conducting interviews with local media that were documenting the activities.
"The elections are going down the right path," he said. "God willing, after the sacrifices that we've given for today, the elections will be successful in all the provinces."
Although many elected officials transferred their authority today, Zuhain will remain in his position until the mayoral elections in August. "We're building a new Iraq with democracy at its head," he said.
Abdulla and his team stopped frequently in the street to talk to locals, chatting about the neighborhood security and sharing political views. Most people say that the chance to vote at all is a privilege, and that their army is making that privilege a reality in the city.
After two days on the streets in his area of operations, Abdulla walks away from the 2009 Iraqi provincial elections with one more success tucked under their belt.