Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Talabani insists on giving the Sunni their share...Fadheela Party may leave the UIA.

In what looks like a reaction to the conditions put by al-Hakeem for the Sunni Arabs to fulfill before joining the government, president Talabani said that “the Sunni must be part of the government under any circumstances but on one condition; that the program is agreed upon by everyone…nothing justifies a government of two parties except the need to form an emergency government” Dar al-Hayat wrote. And when asked about who the Kurds would favor to be the new PM, Talabani said “Abdul Mahdi is closer to occupying this position”.

Moreover, the UIA is suffering from internal conflicts over the nomination of the new PM. While top powers in the UIA favor Jafari and Abdul Mahdi, al-Fadheela Party-with 15 seats in the parliament-still insists on nominating its head Dr. Nadeem al-Jabiri and put the issue for voting inside the bloc.
A news report broadcast on Radio Sawa this morning mentioned that al-Fadheela Party has will consider leaving the UIA and allying with the Accord Front and Allawi if the SCIRI and Da’wa ignored the party’s demands.

The dispute over election results remains alive, after the election commission released its report on alleged violations and fraud; Mowaffaq al-Rubai’i said in an interview on al-Iraqiya TV that he expects the report of the international investigation team to reveal similar findings to those shown by the election commission’s report, i.e. limited violations that won’t alter the final results.

This statement didn’t appeal to Salih al-Mutlaq who criticized al-Rubai’i for speaking on behalf of the investigation team and said that “such a statement raise doubts about the credibility and integrity of this team’s work”.
Maybe al-Rubai’i said that out of self-confidence but either way it wasn’t smart to make public remarks about a report that hasn’t been announced yet.

Al-Mutlaq-who spoke to al-Arabiya-said that “the international community had let us down several times and it is time to correct this position and stand on our side”.
Still in the election results, the election commission’s report that was announced yesterday mentioned that ballots of 227 stations from several provinces will be ignored including 67 stations from Baghdad. Those stations collectively contain approximately 100,000 votes, i.e. 2-3 seats which represent 1% of the parliament seats.
The thing that caught my attention was the report of the Ain Network, the independent organization that monitored the votes with some 11,000 local observers. The report of this network-which is considered the largest single entity involved in monitoring the elections-came immediately after the commission released its report and this Ain report simple parroted what the commission said!
This report came lacking all aspects of professional work, numbers or percentages and only included general statements like “there were some minor violations but nothing big enough to significantly affect the results”.

But…what a friend of mine who worked for them during the election in Nasiriya had something different to say. The man who was a chief observer responsible for monitoring 16 voting centers with a total of over 12,000 registered voters told me just two days ago that fraud did take place in a large scale and I quote:

We had little over 12,000 registered voters in our area or responsibility and after ballots were closed, the 16 observers working in those 16 centers began sending me their reports which included observations of 39 violations of various types. First was the turnout, the overall number of actual voters was 7,472 but later the commissions’ local officials said that 11,489 voters cast their ballots. Then came the unbelievable thing, out of those 11,489 votes, 11,130 went to the UIA!!
Fraud in its traditional ways wasn’t significant, that’s true but my observers told me that election workers in several centers were putting extra ticks on ballot papers that were to go to parties other than the UIA. This way those papers would be discarded from the count, for example, 47 papers out of 330 that were going to the Iraqi list were discarded because they carried two ticks in two different positions.
While in places were turnout was really low, some election workers were filling ballot papers by themselves for the benefit of the UIA and marking absent voters as actual voters, for example there was a center in a remote area in the suburbs with 600 registered voters, only 180 voters showed up but the officially announced turnout was 91%.

Using simple math, one can easily find that more than 30% of the results in those centers were forged and assuming that fraud even half this extent took place in other place in the south, we can suspect that 15% of the 81 seats from the south were wrongfully allocated.
Not only that, what makes this kind of fraud even more difficult to detect is that all papers were authentic...only the ticks were not.

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