Baghdad bishop hails yesterday's vote as "exercise in democracy"

Bishop Jean Baptiste Sleiman spoke optimistically about yesterday's referendum on the Iraqi Constitution following a solid turnout, and the relative lack of violence.

CLICK HEREHe told AsiaNews: "Even if they do not really know what they are voting about, the Iraqis are catching a glimpse of a more stable country." The Constitution is too "ethnic and confessional".

He described the ballot as an "important educational exercise in democracy" even if people were "not fully conscious".

According to Bishop Sleiman, most Iraqis did not know what they were voting about, but it was an important step in the long path towards democracy.

He said: "We are all tired of constant insecurity, and even of conditions of the infrastructure: we lack water and electricity for several hours a day, and in summer, the sewers present a severe problem of hygiene; one is afraid to go to work."

The bishop is convinced people realise that "not going to vote is very dangerous".

"Positive results in today's referendum will give hope of continuation of the political process and that the authorities will keep their promises of more commitment to national unity and dialogue among all parties."

Bishop Sleiman said this could lead to real improvement in the situation in Iraq, where daily life "continues to be shaped by suffering".

Baghdad bishop dubs today's vote "an exercise in democracy" (AsiaNews.it 15/10/05)

Baghdad nuncio says stampede also a tragedy for Catholics (CathNews 1/9/05)

"Joy" over the peaceful vote, says Baghdad's Chaldean Patriarch (AsiaNews.it 16/10/05)
Mgr Sako: people in Kirkuk have not read the constitution but will vote (AsiaNews.it 13/10/05)
Chaldean bishops plan special meeting on Iraq's future (Catholic World News 12/10/05)
Eucharist gives hope to those in war, says Iraqi patriarch (Catholic News Service 7/10/05)

17 Oct 2005