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Iraq Ready for Elections- Iraqi Electoral Commission Chief - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- Faraj al-Haydari, the President of the Independent High Electoral Commission in Iraq has asserted his country’s “complete readiness” to make the voting process on Sunday successful.

Al-Haydari told Asharq Al-Awsat in a telephone interview from Baghdad: “All measures that must be taken have been completed at all polling Centers, including polling centers in 16 countries around the world, which have received all printed ballots and other required items. We are completely ready to hold elections in a smooth and transparent way.”

He added: “We had a meeting with US military commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, and the command of operations in Baghdad yesterday to learn about the security measures that will be taken on the Election Day and measures to secure the polling centers, voters, candidates, and ballot Boxes.”

Al-Haydari said: “More than 20 million Iraqi voters both in and outside Iraq, 19 million in Iraq and nearly 1.5 million abroad, are expected to go to the ballot boxes. They will elect 350 members of the Iraqi House of Representatives (the parliament) from among approximately 6200 male and female candidates in all parts of Iraq.”

The president of the Independent High Electoral Commission expressed surprise “at the uproar that was recently created over the seven million additional ballots and the claim that they would be used to forge the elections.”

He explained: “This additional number was printed in accordance with international standards. They were printed in the previous elections, the provincial council elections, and the elections in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. International standards require the provision of additional ballots amounting to 10 percent of the original number to be used in emergency cases or as a reserve.”

He added: “Fifty additional ballots will be distributed to every center. If any citizen makes a mistake, he can change the ballot. In this case, the wrong ballots will be kept, given a secret number, and returned to the commission.”

He continued: “Also, there are ballots for the military, security agency personnel, prisoners, and sick people. The rest will be kept in secret tight stores for use in any emergency situation, such as natural disasters, explosion, or fire. No ballot will leave the store without a complex procedure of approvals and total secrecy.”

Al-Haydari said that the polling centers will open at 7 am on the seventh of this month until 6 pm on the same day. He noted that the voting process will take place with a great measure of transparency.

Explaining the counting and sorting of votes, the president of the Independent High Electoral Commission said: “The votes will be counted and sorted at all centers in Iraq in the evening of the same polling day after six o’clock, in other words, when the polling ends.”

He added: “The process will take place before Iraqi, Arab, and international observers, representatives of the groups that ran in the elections, and representatives of the civil society organizations.”

He continued: “The results will be printed in four copies. One copy will be displayed outside the polling center, and the other three copies will be put in secure bags and given secret numbers before being sent to the office of the governorate and to Baghdad where the main office of the commission is based.”

He pointed out: “Observers, representatives of political groups, the candidates who ran in the elections and civil society organizations will be able to accompany the persons who will transport the bags that contain the results and watch them all the way until the bags have been delivered to the commission’s office. They will also be able to see the process of transferring the results to special computers and declaration of the results.”

For his part, Ala Abdul-Latif, director of the office of the Independent High Electoral Commission in the United Kingdom, told Asharq Al-Awsat in London yesterday: “Four polling centers have been opened in the kingdom, two in London, one in Birmingham, and one in Manchester. These centers were set up after studying the areas where the Iraqis reside. The tight schedule did not enable us to open other centers, as we faced a difficulty in getting entry visas.”

Abdul-Latif complained: “There are no accurate statistics on the number of Iraqi voters in Britain. Also, there are no registers in the possession of the Independent High Electoral Commission or at the Iraqi embassy in London.”

He noted: “However, after a search and meetings with the Iraqi community, we expect some 100,000 Iraqi voters to go the polling boxes.”

The director of the commission’s office explained: “The polling centers will receive voters from 8 am to 6 pm for three days, from the fifth to the seventh of this month.”

He said: “Voters must carry two identification documents, such as valid Iraqi passports of category G, personal identification cards, or foreign passports indicating that the voters are of Iraqi origin. These passports must show the place of birth, travel document, or the Red Cross document. It is important that the voter carry two recognized documents bearing the person’s picture.”

Abdul-Latif said: “All the necessary voting items, including the ballots and boxes, have arrived at the centers. In addition, the cadre members who will work during the elections have been trained.”

He added: “The commission thought of helping the voters who reside in places far from the polling centers, but no funds were allocated to this task.”

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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