Saturday, January 31, 2009

Elections show 'substantial' progress in Iraq: Britain

LONDON (AFP) — The relatively peaceful Iraqi provincial elections on Saturday show the substantial progress the country has made towards achieving stability, a British minister said.

Bill Rammell, a junior Foreign Office minister, told AFP that the low level of violence reported from the election showed Britain could withdraw its troops later this year safe in the knowledge that Iraq can stand on its own two feet.

"Overall, these elections are providing further evidence of the real demonstrable progress that Iraq is making," he said.

"These elections are a major step towards political reconciliation as those groups that boycotted the last provincial elections have now turned against violence and in turn are participating."

Rammell said Britain's decision to pull out its remaining 4,100 troops from Iraq in July was "based on the assessment that Iraq itself, its government and its security forces are increasingly capable of running their own country."

He added: "I am never going to be complacent... but I do think that if you look at where Iraq is today compared to a year ago, and certainly compared to five years ago, it is very substantial progress."

During his election campaign, US President Barack Obama called for a 16-month timetable for the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq, although he said this week he faced "difficult decisions" on Iraq and Afghanistan.

Amid tight security for Iraq's first ballot since 2005, six policemen and a civilian were injured in a bombing in the mainly Shiite Turkmen town of Tuz Khurmatu north of Baghdad.

And in Tikrit, the hometown of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, four flash bombs exploded near polling centres, without causing injuries.



Post a Comment

<< Home