With American troops ‘drifting offstage,’ Iraqis take the lead in holding peaceful elections.

ink.jpgIraqis selected among 14,500 candidates for 440 seats in their provinicial elections yesterday. The elections were “almost completely free of violence, with just two incidents, and no deaths, reported nationwide.” The only major glitch appeared to be that “thousands of Iraqis were unable to vote because their names were inexplicably missing from voter lists.” Nationwide turnout was 51 percent. The New York Times reports:

[R]egardless of the outcome it is clear that the Americans are already drifting offstage — and that most Iraqis are ready to see them go. […]

“The American military presence brought nothing to our streets but destruction and chaos,” said Omar al-Dulaimi, 57, a government employee who lives near the Um al-Khoura mosque, one of the largest Sunni places of worship in the capital. “We had nothing from them but tension and confusion. It’s much better for us and for them if they stay in their bases now.”

President Obama said, “This important step forward should continue the process of Iraqis taking responsibility for their future.”