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Iraq: Former Prime Minister Warns of Vote Tampering | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat- While Dr. Iyad Allawi, head of Iraqiya national coalition, criticized the Independent High Elections Commission [IHEC] for what he called “the problems that happened during the elections process”, IHEC Chairman Faraj al-Haydari said “all the Iraqi political blocs and leaders from the world’s countries have thanked us for our efforts in the elections and have not leveled any criticisms against us.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat by telephone from Baghdad yesterday, Allawi said “many problems happened during the elections because of the IHEC’s measures and the most important ones were in Syria where many Iraqis were prevented from casting their votes and in the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.” He referred to the “mistakes made during the voting process by the armed forces and security organs, and hospitals personnel, and jails and detention centers inmates.” He added: “We asked the IHEC to open the doors of the polling centers an additional hour, especially in the areas that were the target of bombings and explosions like Al-A’zamiyah, Abu-Ghurayb, and other areas so as to give the citizens the chance to cast their votes and not deprive them of their legitimate constitutional right. But the IHEC did not respond to this demand.”

Allawi pointed “to what happened at the polling centers in London where the majority of Iraqis were not allowed to cast their votes because of the IHEC’s measures and failure to organize its work abroad. They did not succeed in this process and there should have been coordination between the IHEC and the Foreign Ministry through its embassies in their capacities as the representatives of the Iraqi Government.”

the Iraqiya coalition’s leader expressed his “belief that the votes might possibly be rigged during the vote count and this will subject to failure the elections process in which the majority of Iraqis took part” and said: “For these reasons, we pointed out and criticized the IHEC’s work and warned against continuing to act with this kind of irresponsibility, especially during the vote count.”

Allawi had demanded in press statements he made in Baghdad after the polling centers’ doors were closed the night before yesterday “from the next Iraqi parliament to question all the IHEC members for its failure in its work” and at the same time criticized the “Iraqi Government which was unable to provide safe atmospheres while the Iraqis were casting their votes.”

On his part, IHEC Chairman Al-Haydari replied to Allawi’s criticisms by saying that “more than 43,000 Iraqis voted in Syria, which was the highest percentage of participation in the 16 centers outside Iraq, so how can there be a failure in our work with this number of participants.” He pointed out that “the reason for what happened at the London polling center was the IHEC’s tightening of the legal measures concerning the documents required to prove that the voter is Iraqi while some voters insisted on showing European (Iraqi) documents stating their place of birth. But this was not enough to prove he was Iraqi and we therefore insisted on demanding an Iraqi document and this was in the interest of the transparency of vote and the honesty of the elections process.”

As to the IHEC’s refusal to extend the voting time by an additional hour, Al-Haydari said: “We did not see any reasons for this extension. Our instructions were clear, namely, to let any voter cast his vote even if there was a long queue of voters waiting outside the center so as to give all the voters the full opportunity for exercising their legitimate right.” He added: “We were expecting a word of thanks from Dr. Allawi, who we esteem and respect, for the efforts exerted by all the IHEC staff to ensure the success of the elections, particularly as he was the only one who criticized our work, contrary to all the other Iraqi political entities and leaders of major countries who praised our commission’s work. But we were surprised by his criticisms and attack on us.”

He pointed out that the “preliminary results of the elections will appear by the end of this week and any results made now are media leaks. We will pay attention to all the complaints. We have received many complaints but not serious to be red complaints, that is important ones, except for four.” He noted that “the leading entities at present are the Iraqiya, State of Law, and Iraqi National Coalition.”

Haydar al-Mulla, the Al-Iraqiya coalition’s official spokesman, had pointed to the “receipt of confirmed and deeply worrying reports that there is a premeditated plan to tamper with the votes wholesale by filling the ballot papers of those who did not take part with the names of the authority’s parties. He said this plan was arranged by pro-Iran parties, was being implemented after the centers had closed their doors, and the papers were being filled by persons belonging to the aforementioned lists and prepared to mix with the main votes when the count starts at night. He urged the United Nations, international observers, and the international community not to leave the boxes but protect them against any tampering with the votes. Responding to this, Al-Haydari said: “This is absolutely impossible to do. No person will be able to reach the ballot boxes because they are kept in secret places and under observation. That is one thing. Another is that the results of the preliminary count are verified by the observers.”

The IHEC chairman urged “the political entities and candidates to accept the elections results and not cast doubts on them” and said: “What can we do when all the entities and candidates want to win. Accusations and threats of appeals were leveled against us before, during, and after the elections.”