Saturday, 6 March 2010
Iraq Election - Escalating allegations of fraud in favour of pro-Iranian and sectarian parties
For Immediate Release 6 March 2010
IRAQI ELECTIONS UPDATE
Escalating allegations of fraud
A senior member of the European Parliament has claimed that he has received a flood of allegations of fraud in the run-up to tomorrow’s election in Iraq. Struan Stevenson MEP, President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq says that after he published a special email address last week (firstname.lastname@example.org) and invited Iraqis to send him details of any incidences of fraud they uncovered, he has been inundated with communications from across Iraq that have given him great cause for concern.
Speaking on the eve of the Iraqi poll Struan Stevenson said:
“Voting has started already in many countries of the Middle East and around the world where there are large numbers of Iraqi refugees and exiles. Voting for the Iraqi military and security forces is also underway and I have received a large number of emails detailing blatant attempts to manipulate the polls in favour of pro-Iranian and sectarian parties. My earlier fears that Iran would try to export its own crude system of electoral fraud and ballot-rigging to Iraq are now being realised.
“Some of the emails I have received include allegations of murder, violence, intimidation, bribery and corruption. I have been told of the assassination of key political figures such as Dr Soha Abdallah in Mosul, the illegal arrest of Najem Harbi – head of the Al-Iraqia slate in Diala province, together with an extensive campaign of arrests of Al-Iraqia supporters in Salaheddin and south Baghdad. Other evidence has been sent to me of candidates being attacked and beaten by the Iraqi security forces in Karbala and leaflets have been distributed threatening violence and death to supporters of some of the nationalist and non-sectarian parties. Massive amounts of, allegedly, Iranian cash has been distributed to buy votes and in one case apparently pistols were purchased and handed out to villagers in return for their pledges of support.
“I have also been given first-hand accounts of how 7 million ‘extra’ ballot papers have been printed, supposedly to replace any ballot papers that may be lost or stolen. This could, depending on the overall turnout in the election, amount to a 40% surplus of ballot papers and opens the door to serious possibilities for vote-rigging. I have even received an email from a former employee of the Electoral Commission for Elections claiming that polling stations are not being properly manned or supervised and that pens used for marking ballot papers contain ink which fades after a few minutes, enabling the ballot papers to be re-marked a second-time.
“All of these claims are deeply disturbing and all seem to point towards a tactic aimed at manipulating the election so that the non-sectarian, secular and nationalist parties are defeated and victory is handed to the sectarian, pro-Iranian parties. These attempts to swindle the people of Iraq in the same way as the people of Iran were subjected to a phony election result last June, raise the spectre of extensive meddling in the electoral process by the Iranian regime.
“I have already issued a warning that Europe and the West will not tolerate a counterfeit election in Iraq. We have no desire to see that country plunged again into the dark abyss of sectarian violence which will surely follow in the wake of sham elections. I therefore call on the Iraqi government and Iraqi security forces to get a grip of this situation before it is too late and ensure that the election is free, fair and transparent, enabling the true democratic will of the Iraqi people to be realised.”
Struan Stevenson, MEP
President, Delegation for relations with Iraq
The European Parliament
Rue Wiertz, B-1047, Brussels.