In his surprise visit to Baghdad on Sunday, U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was apparently pleased with the success of the elections. He should not be.

The elections are first and foremost an achievement of the Iraqi people. Neither Cheney nor any other power should have a claim for their resounding success.

The nine-hour visit was Cheney's first since the U.S.-led invasion that ousted President Saddam Hussein in April 2003. No cheering crowds awaited the chief architect of the war, as he predicted they would prior to the invasion.

Nonetheless, he bragged about the elections, seeing them as a milestone. Since he and his troops have no other achievement to speak of after nearly three years of occupation, this isn't surprising.

Iraqi leaders seemed to share Cheney's happiness over the ballot. But they also need to be reminded that they had nothing to do with the success of the vote. All the credit goes to the Iraqi people.

Iraqis didn't go to polls in their millions because they are happy with the status quo. They went because they are tired and desperate and hope by voting, they will eventually elect a national government that will end the occupation and improve their worsening condition.

therefore, the elections were the fruit of the struggle of the Iraqi people, who deserve better leadership after decades of oppression and tyranny.

Iraqis have felt little difference since the fall of Saddam Hussein. And now they fear that in the aftermath of the elections, conditions will even worsen.

Rather than rewarding the Iraqi people, the outgoing government, mired in corruption, accused of human rights abuses, inefficiency and sectarianism, is pressing ahead with its policies to harm them.

In a dubious move just days after the elections, it raised fuel prices beyond levels that millions of Iraqis can afford. Iraqis are angry, but there's nothing they can do since they have already cast their votes.

Amid rising violence, high unemployment and rampant poverty, Iraqis are more than ever in need of state assistance. But the outgoing government is just doing the opposite.

It has scrapped fuel subsidies and says it is going to slash food subsidies, too.