The U.S. Ambassador to Iraq predicts a strong turnout amid tight security for next Sunday's Iraqi election. One week to the day before Iraqis go to the polls, Ambassador Negroponte was interviewed on five American television talk shows. He said Iraqis want to vote and efforts are being made to make sure they can do so safely.
On the Fox News Sunday television program, Ambassador Negroponte offered this assessment:
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"We will see strong participation by Iraqi voters in the northern and southern parts of this country. There will be problematic areas, particularly in the center, in the Sunni Triangle."
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Insurgents in the Sunni-dominated area are issuing threats against those who want to participate in the election, calling it a ploy to put Shi'ite Muslims in power.
Ambassador Negroponte stressed that even in areas where the insurgency is strongest, great efforts are being made to make sure that every eligible Iraqi can cast a ballot.
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"Security measures are being taken by both the M.N.F. - the multi-national forces here in Iraq - as well as the Iraqi armed forces and police. They have elaborate security plans that go all the way down to the district level."
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Leading U.S. Congress members also commented on the Iraqi election. Senator Diane Feinstein, a Democrat, told Fox News Sunday it is extremely important, noting it could ultimately bring the various factions in Iraq together.
On the same program, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham looked ahead to what might happen after the vote. He said even if political unity is achieved, the insurgency will continue to test the will of the Iraqi people.
Senator Graham said it is going to be a tough year for both Iraq and the United States. But he added if those involved in bringing democracy to Iraq are patient, it is going to be a great year.