Iraq elections: 'It will take three years for my country to be put right'

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The Independent Online

"I voted for Allawi because we feel he is a man from our own level. He knows about farmers and the working class. We are poor people but we know Allawi will support us and understand our problems. The most important thing is Allawi has promised to create new jobs. I import agricultural products from Iraq to Syria. I am originally from Badrah, east of Baghdad, but have been in Syria for 11 months. I hope to go back to Iraq after the elections. I would go back today if it were safe."

Khaled Suri Alwani, Small-scale merchant

"I voted for Allawi because we feel he is a man from our own level. He knows about farmers and the working class. We are poor people but we know Allawi will support us and understand our problems. The most important thing is Allawi has promised to create new jobs. I import agricultural products from Iraq to Syria. I am originally from Badrah, east of Baghdad, but have been in Syria for 11 months. I hope to go back to Iraq after the elections. I would go back today if it were safe."

Ahmer Ikabi, Contract worker

"I voted for the 169 group (al-Hakim, Jafari and Chalabi) because I think they are people who believe in democracy, reject violence and find political solutions to problems. They made a lot of sacrifices at the time of Saddam and fought his regime so I think they should be credited. Also I think they have the experience needed to draw up the constitution. I work for a contractor in Kut, my home town, but I am in Syria on the way back from buying machinery in Beirut. I am still afraid of terrorists in Iraq, and I think it will take up to three years for my country to be put right."

Sheikh Mohammed al-Kanaan of the Tameem tribe, in Maysan province

"The Ayatollah Sistani has said it is our religious duty to vote and I have made sure all those, including my wife and daughters, who can vote in my family should do so. We have had a debate about who to vote for, but I am not telling them what to do. My main fear is that there will be a lot of violence."

Manal Alwan, a resident of Sweden for 15 years

"It feels wonderful; it's the first time in my life. It's such a natural right to have, but which Iraqis haven't experienced in such a long time. We have to have some kind of solution, even it's not a guarantee for the future. But if we have a government elected by the people, at least it can accomplish some things. That's the small hope we're holding on to."

Saleh Hussein al-Hashemi, Port official in Um Qasar, south of Basra

"We have not got clean water or power. I shall vote for the list approved by Ayatollah Sistani, but perhaps Allawi will be the Prime Minister because he is a strong man."

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