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CNN LIVE AT DAYBREAK

Iraq Voting Under Way to Give Saddam Another Term

Aired October 15, 2002 - 05:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Let's head to Iraq right now, where voting is under way to give President Saddam Hussein another term in office.
CNN's Jane Arraf joins us live from Baghdad for a look at how things are going -- and, Jane, I must say many Americans probably feel this election is a joke.

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not an election so much as a vote of support for the Iraqi president and a vote of defiance against the United States. If we're talking about elections, though, the Iraqi press has said that what they expect the vote to be would certainly be much higher than President George Bush has gotten.

In any case, this is what it's all about. It's a ballot that says, "Do you agree that Saddam Hussein assume presidency of the Republic of Iraq?" Now, seven years ago they did this same exercise and came out with, as you know, 99.9 percent. But it's not the numbers, really, that matter. Many Iraqis, most, I would say, really don't believe that 99.9 percent of them came out to vote and voted yes. But the point is that this really is a huge show of support.

Now, voting has taken place across the country, those parts of the country controlled by the Iraqi leadership. Izzat Ibrahim, who is Saddam Hussein's right hand man, was one of the first to cast his ballot. He said, "How can America fight against these people?" meaning that the Iraqis were united and strong and were united against the United States, as well.

Now, Iraqi TV has been showing live pictures of voting from selected areas in other parts of the country, from parts of the south, from the holy city of Najef, and also from areas like Kirkuk, the oil town. North of Iraq, of course, the Kurdish controlled areas, have been out of Iraqi government control since 1991 and we don't expect much voting to be taking place there -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Jane Arraf reporting live from Baghdad this morning.

Jane, sorry, I have to cut you off short because we do have breaking news to tell you about.

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