Saturday, 13th March 2010
Iraqi election - mounting claims of cheating
As the final results of the Iraqi election emerge, mounting claims of fraud and ballot-rigging are being aired. Commenting on the latest claims, Struan Stevenson MEP, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq said:
“The steady flow of allegations has now become a flood. In the past 36 hours I have received first-hand accounts of countless blank ballots being filled in primarily to benefit the State of Law coalition (Nouri Al-Maliki) list in Sadr City in Baghdad, particularly in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhoods of Al-Adhamia, Zeyoona, Al-Fadhl, Share’a Felestin and Al-Selekh. In many cases thousands of ballot papers were marked with a second tick to render them invalid. One report stated that many thousands of ballot papers marked in favour of Iraqiya list (Ayad Allawi) had been discovered on a Baghdad rubbish dump. Also scores of military personnel were prevented from voting because their names did not appear on any register.
“On the day allocated for prisoners to vote, it is alleged that ballot boxes never arrived at many of Iraq’s prisons, but were hi-jacked for fraudulent purposes. In Diyala Province, I was informed that members of the Badr Organisation and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) forcibly removed observers from some polling stations and then stuffed ballot boxes with previously-marked papers. In the IHEC headquarters, it has now been reported from reliable sources that computer records were manipulated to increase the number of seats won by the State of Law coalition, in some cases by adding zeros to the voting figures. This blatant fraud was uncovered and six members of the IHEC staff were publicly sacked.
“On top of previous reports of thousands of missing names from the electoral register, I have also been informed of disappearing ink in pens used in some polling stations, intimidation and blackmail of voters, the forcible ejection of election observers from polling stations and earlier this year, the dubious expulsion of more than 500 pro-secular, nationalist candidates from the election. All of these allegations will serve to undermine the final result of the Iraqi elections and risk robbing the Iraqi people of their right to a free, fair and democratically elected government.
“The issue of fraud and ballot-rigging perpetrated by the Iranian regime and the ruling State of Law coalition is an extremely worrying situation for all political parties in Iraq. Many political leaders and officials who have participated in the elections have revealed such cheating with precise details during numerous interviews with the press and in emails to me and telephone conversations.
“I will be presenting a large dossier of evidence of election fraud to a meeting of the Delegation for Relations with Iraq in the European Parliament, Brussels, this coming Wednesday, 17th March at 15.00hrs. I intend to seek the support of the delegation to send a copy of the dossier to Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and to the Foreign Affairs Committee in the European Parliament. I am certain they will share my concern that widespread cheating may have fatally undermined the final result of this election and could plunge Iraq back into a spiral of sectarian violence.”