Secret ballots are the cornerstone of any democratic process. But little more than two weeks before Iraq's first free elections on Jan. 30, the country is finding that secrecy is being taken to new heights.

The identities of many of the candidates haven't been publicly disclosed and are likely to remain secret until after election day, an illustration of the difficulty in mounting an election amid war.

"Not having the candidates' names known is far from ideal for an election, but I think we can all understand the fears over their safety,'' says a foreign election adviser. "Security is a very big issue for all candidates."

Instead of voting for individual candidates in the election to fill the transitional national assembly, Iraqis will select from a list of 111 political parties, each with its own lengthy slate of candidates that can include between 12 and 275 names.

Secrecy surrounds Iraq vote | csmonitor.com


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