Iraqi Election Commission Report on Voter Lockout Inadequate
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(AINA) -- The Iraqi Independent Electoral High Commission (IEHC) has issued a report of its investigation into voting irregularities and lockouts in North Iraq. Responding to allegations by Assyrians, Turkmen, Yezidis and Shabaks that 300,000 of their members were denied the opportunity to vote on January 30th, the IEHC's report failed to satisfactorily explain the voting irregularities, and did not offer any resolution to the issue, such as allowing the disaffected region to vote at a later date.

The following report was translated for AINA by Mary Challita.

Bulletin No 15

The Independent Electoral High Commission reveals the existence of electoral inconsistencies in the Nineveh governorate.

Baghdad February 07th, 2005

The independent electoral high commission in Iraq declares that the National Assembly elections in the Nineveh governorate as well as the governorate council elections were held in a positive atmosphere with a relatively remarkable public participation even with the vast difficulties in making the necessary preparations because of the continuous terrorist threats to the electoral process on one hand and the local administrative authorities apology to extend any assistance in organizing the elections in the Nineveh governorate as it was confirmed by law on Sunday January 30th, 2005.

Therefore, the commission asserts that its preparations and preparedness didn't exclude any town or region including those in the Nineveh governorate. Thus, because it wasn't possible to obtain the assistance of local employees, an Iraqi electoral group of about 1200 volunteers from different Iraqi governorates were sent to help and they executed their responsibilities in a courageous and sacrificial manner. In spite of these initiatives, the commission was obliged due to security factors which resulted in not having enough staff and as a consequence the polling centers in the governorate were reduced from 330 to 93 only. 43 of those were in the city of Mosul, and 40 outside the city amongst which were those in al-Hamadaniya (Qaraqosh), Baa'chiqa, Sinjar, Shikhan, Karmelis, Bahzani, Bartilla, Tel-Kef, Tel-Afar, Rabi'aa, Alqosh, Ba'aj, Makhmour, Fayda, al-Kalak, and other areas inhabited by Iraqi citizens such as the Christians, Yizids, Turkmen, Kurds, Arabs, Shabak, Kakaks, or others, the commission thought of all of them as eligible voters, thus they had the absolute legal right to participate in the elections just like any other eligible Iraqi citizens.

In mid-day of January 30th, 2005 the commission received calls from its representatives in Nineveh as well as many political entities confirming that some of these areas hadn't received the electoral materials on time or they had never received them as was the case in al-Hamadaniya (Qaraqosh), this is what we tried to remedy immediately with relative success when we were sure that all the electoral materials were received at the designated centers, further more the commission took an emergency procedure to allow the registered voters in these areas the necessary time to vote even if that took several additional hours, some thing which was possible given the fact that most of these areas are usually safe.

However, some media reports and rumors circulated accusing the commission's administrators in the governorate of intentionally attempting to exclude the towns with high density population of Christians, Yizids, or others from participating in the elections by not providing the electoral materials, this prompted the commission to send a prominent delegation including the council's president Dr. Hussain al-Hindawi, the general executive director Adel al-Lami and the operations director on an urgent mission to study the situation directly and investigate several reports some of which were sent by the commission's employees in Nineveh which mentioned the occurrence of assaults and grave violations at a number of electoral centers in the Nineveh governorate on Sunday, January 30th, 2005. Following their visit the delegation met with the commission's director in the governorate and some United Nations experts who were in charge of following up on site the elections process. The delegation also met with other administrators such as the governor, his deputy, political figures, certain political entities representatives and representatives of the populations of Qaraqosh, Baa'chiqa, Sinjar, Shikhan, Karmelis, Bahzani and Bartilla…

The investigation results are briefly as follows:

1 - There were 435 ballot boxes which were received from different polling stations in the Nineveh governorate and these have a legal status whereby the votes were counted and officially recognized in the special bulletins for the final results of the Iraqi elections.

2 - There are 40 other boxes subject to complaints and refute or were packaged in a manner violating instructions, so they were sent to the national bureau in Baghdad to investigate them further in order to deal with them according to procedures and in the presence of political representatives, observers, and the media.

3 - The town of Bartilla alone has (15188 voters) but the electoral process didn't take place even though the electoral materials were provided and that occurred due to security reasons when the elections employees refrained from going to the electoral center. The electoral materials were returned to the Mosul airport by the assigned transportation.

4 - Some electoral materials were forcibly stolen from some electoral centers by some armed groups.

5 - The commission's employees were subjected in more than one electoral center in the region to physical assaults by some armed groups in irregular or military uniforms, who stole the ballots as well as the ballot boxes then they returned them back offering our civilian employees monetary bribes which they refused.

6 - In one of the electoral centers an armed group stole the ballot cards then they returned them in some irregular bags.

7 - In another electoral center, some armed men forcibly appropriated the ballot boxes then they returned them one attached to the other and tape replaced the covers which were thrown away.

8 - The commission disclosed some of the contested ballot boxes at the Mosul airport before the United Nations experts and a number of local administrators among them was the Nineveh governor, his deputy, political figures, and representatives of political entities participants in the electoral process, they all attested to the soundness of the commission's procedures.

9 - The commission transported all the ballot boxes as well as the electoral materials to its national headquarters in Baghdad along with the boxes whose legality is doubted or that were packaged in a manner contradictory to instructions.

10 - The commission's council has carefully examined the aforementioned trespasses and it shall take proper procedures accordingly and separately case by case then the Iraqi public will be informed as soon as possible about the investigation results.

The commission which has proven with an Iraqi and international admission the professionalism and integrity of its procedures as well as its profound respect to all the Iraqi factions with no exception whether religious, national, sectarian, or social, it also would like to express its regret as to the invincible difficulties which deprived a significant number of citizens from voting in the Nineveh governorate, it also regrets how some tried to give this logistic-security problem political attributes un related to the factual situation.

The Commissioners Council

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