March 12, 2010

UPDATE 4 - Iraq's Elections.

This is a rushed post. These are the latest news from Iraq and its "elections".

I will start with a very important piece of info first.

1) The Iraqi army has encircled Adhamiya and closed all the neighborhood entries and exits...

The official government version is to help curtail the spread of "armed groups planning "terrorist activities..."

The people of Adhamiya say, on the other hand that they are being "punished" for having voted exclusively for the secular and nationalist list of Al-Iraqiya.

2) Very strong explosions were heard in the Shaab neigbhorhood, in Tujar street. No further information was given.

3) On the election front, a partial result representing an average of 30% of total votes, shows that and as expected Maliki's State of Law Coalition is leading in the Southern provinces and that Al-Iraqiya of Ayad Allawi is leading in the "predominantly Sunni" provinces in the Center of the country. As for Northern Iraq, it seems that the Kurdish Alliance of Talabani/Barazani is leading in Erbil, followed by the Kurdish Islamic Party, the Party of Change and Jamaat Al-Islamiya.
In sum the partition/division of Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish provinces is still very much present. And for that partition to persist it is imperative to rig the votes.

No results have been announced for Baghdad - and who leads Baghdad is very important. But the first signs like points 1&2 , clearly give a foretaste of what the results are for Baghdad.

4) Fraud : Some people are asking for a vote recount as several allegations of rigging and fraud have been leveled, implicating ALSO the High Electoral Commission in tampering with the votes in favor of Al-Maliki's bloc.

A first version of this AP report had a whole paragraph on Stevenson from the EU who stated that the amount of fraud that took place rendered these elections useless. This was ALSO picked up by
Al-Sharqiya. Stevenson mentioned a very highly placed female employee of the HEC caught changing the vote results in favor of Al-Maliki's bloc. Steveneson then contacted the UN observer and asked that the final results be presented with no further delay.
For some reason, that same AP report has changed and the whole paragraph about Stevenson's statement has been erased.

Al Iraqiya candidates also have a list of serious complaints/charges about Fraud taking place, echoing Stevenson's "uselessness of elections" --  "rigging to an extent that would render the elections useless for reflecting the voice of the Iraqis."

The "irregularities" mentioned were :

- intimidation of voters -- forcing them to vote for certain parties
- many voting lists in favor of Iraqiya have been erased manually
- over 200'000 individuals could not vote because their names were not listed
- presence of some election candidates during the counting of votes
- several ballot boxes from areas that gave strong support for Iraqiya, have simply disappeared and therefore a good number of votes have not been included in the preliminary results.

Iraqiya has contacted UNAMI of the UN and has briefed it with all the "irregularities and fraud " that are taking place...

HEC on the other hand has received over 1'000 complaints of rigging and fraud...but then what does it really matter since HEC itself is rigging the election's results...