Friday, December 23, 2005

Dispute continues over election results...

Yesterday was an eventful day for the parties that rejected the results of the elections. Those parties and coalitions-more than 30 in total-signed a “charter of honor” and formed a new movement under the name “Maram”.

The main parties involved in Maram are the Accord Front, Allawi’s list, Salih al-Mutlaq and the list of former defense minister Hazim al-Sha’lan as well as many other Sunni and secular Shia smaller lists and parties that collectively represent more than 70 seats in the parliament according the currently announced results.

Those 35 political bodies established Maram to coordinate their work in rejecting the results they called fraudulent and to press for redoing the elections again under international supervision.

Today the Accord Front organized a huge demonstration in the western half of Baghdad where demonstrators carried banners and chanted slogans accusing the election committee of fraud and bias, this news story by an AP writer estimates the crowds by twenty thousands while the Baghdad TV that speaks for the Accord Front says more than a million men and women were there. No accurate figure can be reached but the demonstrators marched through Baghdad’s widest street “the four streets” in Yarmouk district filled the street for kilometers and in my opinion being able to organize such a huge demonstration suggests that the Front does have a very strong public base in Baghdad that many thousands answered the call within a one-day notice. (Demonstration Vidoe from Baghdad TV).

This joint effort between Sunni Islamists, Sunni and Shia seculars as well as communists in spite of the great differences in their points of view reflects the depth of the worries shared by those parties about having one party monopolize power.
Politicians and demonstrators expressed their disappointment with the performance of the election commission and the violations of the UIA, some felt that the Sunni had been tricked into the political process and think there are two theories, either the international community knew what was going to happen and closed an eye on it or it was also fooled by the other parties [UIA] now the world has to either stand on their (the Sunni) side or confront them. In general, most of the reactions are angry.

However, there’s still hope that the international community will help Iraq investigate what happened and find the truth.
On the other hand, Radio Sawa reported that senior election commission official Farid Ayar submitted his resignation to PM Jafari. Ayar explained his decision in a statement he gave to al-Hayat newspaper in which he said “Time has changed and so did the principles and ethics that used to govern our work”.
Another senior official in the commission Izziddin Mohammadi was rushed to a hospital two days ago when suffered a heart attack, this may-or may not-be related to the stress associated with the current accusations haunting the commission.

Some members from the opposition parties predict that Ayar’s resignation appeal is the beginning of disclosing the scandal.

Al-Hayat said that a member of the UIA who refused to reveal his name said that the UIA was surprised by American movement against them in three methods:

The first method of pressure is through supporting the parties that reject the results and giving them the green light to push the limits of their demands from demanding redoing the elections in Baghdad alone to redoing the elections nationwide.
The second way takes the form of searching for evidence of fraud that prove the involvement of the UIA; this has included several arrests for officials in the south especially in Kut where the ballot-loaded truck allegedly was found in.

The third way is taking the form of threats. The US is threatening to prosecute a number of government officials namely Bayan Jabor, the interior minister who’s been accused of torturing and abusing detainees in secret prisons.

So far, the rival parties are using dialogue and peaceful demonstration and no one has resorted to violence and this is a positive sign that makes us think we still have the chance to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

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