Rome (AsiaNews) There are 280,303 Iraqis living abroad who registered in 14 countries to vote in next Sunday's elections. On the last day of registration (January 26), 24,643 new voters got their names on the voters' list. Voting has already started this morning in Australia.
Among those going to vote there are some members of the former ruling Baath Party who had fled to Italy at the beginning of the US invasion. They have recently returned to Baghdad to cast their ballot. Some of them said on the eve of their departure that "they were going to vote to get rid of the Americans".
"Under Saddam we had prosperity. We are aware that our return is risky, but the election is the only way to guarantee a truly Iraqi government and prevent our homeland from becoming a US protectorate".
Fear of attacks has led some expatriates to bring over some under age relatives not eligible to vote so that "if we die there [i.e. Iraq] at least there will be somebody who will take care of our children".
There are only 1,068 Iraqi national in Italy, primarily in Rome (about 50 families). Many of them are priests, nuns and seminarians who have come to study.
A woman originally from Mosul and a resident of Rome told AsiaNews she wanted to vote. "If there were polling stations here, I would have gone to vote because elections can give my country stability".
Here is a brief overview of the number of Iraqis registered to vote per country.
There are 11,806 registered voters in Australia. Voting began this morning in Sidney and Melbourne.
Voting takes place in three cities: Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary for the 10,957 registered voters.
Voting takes place in the capital Copenhagen. There are 12,983 registered voters.
UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
There are 12, 581 registered voters who can cast their ballots in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Voting is limited to Paris for 1,041 Iraqis.
The 26,416 registered voters will cast their ballot in Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Mannheim.
Polling stations are located in the capital Amman. There are 20,166 voters.
There are 60,908 Iraqis registered voters who can cast their ballot in six cities: Tehran, Qom, Orumiyeh, Kermanshah, Ahvaz and Mashhad.
Voting takes place in three cities: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Zwolle. There are 14,725 voters.
There are 30,961 Iraqis registered to vote who can cast their ballot in London, Manchester and Glasgow.
In Sweden, 31,045 Iraqi voters can vote in Stockholm and Göteborg.
Some 16,581 Iraqis can vote in Damascus.
There are 4,187 voters in Istanbul and Ankara.
The 25,946 registered voters can cast their ballot in Washington, Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles and Nashville. (LF-VFP)