Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iraqi Electoral Commission: Suck on it. The Americans support us

Advance voting for security personnel, prisoners and people in hospital starts today in the Iraqi provincial-council elections, the main voting scheduled for this coming Saturday January 31. The Iraqi paper AlMashriq says there are a total of 14,431 candidates, representing around 400 different political entities, for a total of 440 seats in the 14 provincial councils (including all provinces except the three in Kurdistan region, and Kirkuk). The paper says there are around 15 million eligible voters.

The electoral commission announced yesterday the arrival of 800 foreigners to assist in the elections, but the paper doesn't offer any details, for instance their nationality or specific tasks. The paper says Iraqi security forces will be participating in screening voters at the voting places, and the "multinational forces" will be assisting in providing security in the country.

Azzaman begins its election reporting this way:
There were increasing warnings from politicians and civic groups yesterday about the possibility of widespread fraud during the elections on Saturday. Candidates said supervision should not be limited to the big cities with lax supervision in the towns and villages, as has happened in the past. Meanwhile, the market (bursa) for the purchase of votes in the provinces intensified, with the religious parties offering each voter one hundred dollars in exchange for his vote for their candidate.

And officials in civic organizations observing the elections said the Electoral Commission has failed to put in place mechanisms to prevent fraud, particularly in the transfer of ballot-boxes to the counting centers. There said there isn't adequate protection against substitution of ballot boxes with fraudulent ones, or the arrangement of ballot boxes where unpopular candidates estimate that there will be a big majority [against them] in order to prevent their victory.
Alazeera quotes a Sadrist spokesman who said the same thing:
We have reliable information about a plan to substitute the original ballot boxes with others that contain ballots in favor of particular entities, during their transfer from secondary polling places to the major centers, and with the assistance of the security agency in some of the provinces.

Ahmed AlMasoudi added: We have information of an intention to bribe officials at polling stations in certain provinces to overlook these breaches. He said there have been recently discovered a number of these fraudulent ballot boxes in the province of Najaf, but this has been kept quiet.

He said the transfer of ballot boxes should be carried out under the direct supervision of the Electoral Commission, the United Nations, and with unpoliticized security protection, "because the security agencies in some of the provinces belong to parties that are participating in the elections". He said he has informed he United Nations of these concerns and asked for their direct supervision of the electoral process.
Here is AlJazeera's summary of the rebuttal by the head of the Electoral Commission:
[He] ruled out the occurrence of fraud operations, and affirmed they have taken all measures to limit fraud, including transferring the ballot boxes under the protection of the security agencies, and the support of the multinational forces, adding that it is the right of party managers to follow the transfer of the ballot boxes one by one.
That settles it! The Electoral Commission is citing support from the American armed forces in the matter of electoral anti-fraud measures. Who needs the United Nations? This is like saying the assignment of a fine American like George Mitchell to talk to regional autocrats and Zionists is a sure sign of progress in that area! Neocon Bush-democracy people and Liberal Zionists living together in Washington in peace and harmony! USA! USA!


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