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Operations Update (Elections), Dec. 8, 2005

Multi-National Force-Iraq

Wednesday, 07 December 2005

PRESS CONFERENCE WITH MEMBERS OF THE INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF IRAQ TOPIC: DECEMBER 15TH ELECTIONS LOCATION: THE COMBINED PRESS INFORMATION CENTER, BAGHDAD, IRAQ DATE: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 8, 2005

(Note: The briefers' remarks are provided through interpreter.)

IECI MEMBER: Good morning. By the name -- on behalf of the Electoral Commission, we thank you for attending this conference.

I have -- (break in translation.) Now we are training more than 170,000 employees to organize the elections, and we -- and also -- there have been also campaign -- (break in translation.) Today, the Electoral Commission is going to issue a statement about the complaints received by the Electoral Commission. There are more than 50 complaints, and most of these complaints is about tearing the posters and the pictures. And we called on all the political parties to conduct a civil election campaign and refrain from this unacceptable behavior and to refrain also from violence and not to mistreat others. As you know, the Electoral Commission has also received the lists of the names who have been considered by the de-Ba'athification Committee as covered by the de-Ba'athification law. As you know, the State Administration Law and the de-Ba'athification laws stipulates that nominees should not be former members of the Ba'ath Party. A certain level of membership in the Ba'ath Party -- there are now more than 7,000 nominees and candidates, and we have presented these names to the de-Ba'athification Committee, and the de-Ba'athification Committee said that 180 people are covered by the de-Ba'athification law. And we have informed the political parties, and they started contacting the Electoral Commission, and some of these mistakes were wrong, so that we canceled them from the list, and others withdrew from the elections. And there are some political parties which provided us the names of other than those who are covered by the de- Ba'athification law to replace them.

This is a very dangerous and sensitive issue, and we wanted constitutional institutions to take part in this issue. That's why the Electoral Commission sent a message to the speaker of the parliament, the president of Iraq and the prime minister, asking them to give their opinions about this issue. In these messages we confirm the fact that the Electoral Commission is an independent organization and will issue its decisions according to the legal procedures.

And the Electoral Commission is also open for recommendations and proposals. And in the next few days, we are going to stress that the most crucial period in the elections is the period of counting the votes. You know that a lot of observers and monitors are present in the polling stations during the day, therefore, the illegal procedures are not likely to happen. But the violations happens after closing the polling stations and during the counting of votes. That's why we call on all the political parties not to leave these polling stations, and nobody has the right to ask them to leave these polling stations. These people should be witnesses to the counting of votes. As you know, and according to the regulations, the responsible -- or the directors of these polling stations will announce the results to those who are present, and this information will be recorded in many documents.

Thank you very much.

Q (Through interpreter.) Nasir Aharmi (ph) from the National Agency for News. You said that there are some people who are covered by the de-Ba'athification law and they belong to different political parties. And you said you sent a message to the president and the prime minister. What is your opinion, did they answer you?

IECI MEMBER: Yesterday we sent these messages, and expect to receive the answer in two days because the time is short.

Q (Through interpreter.) Could you give me, please, a number about my first question.

IECI MEMBER: About 180 people are covered by the de- Ba'athification law, and there have been some mistakes in 20 names.

Q (Through interpreter.) (Name inaudible) -- from Al- Hurriyah TV. There are 15 polling sites outside Iraq, and the Kurds and the Turkomens are not in these polling stations. During the elections outside Iraq, why don't you make the 16th and 17th of December as a holiday?

IECI MEMBER: As for those who work in the polling stations outside Iraq, the Electoral Commission wanted to employ those who worked in the past year because now they have good experience. And the Electoral Commission is open to all people. And I don't think that the Kurds and Turkomens are excluded from this process, and we have some polling sites who have been run by Kurds and Turkomens. What's your second question?

Q (Through interpreter.) The elections outside Iraq on the 13th and 14th of December.

IECI MEMBER: We studied this issue and we wanted elections outside Iraq to be held on the 16th, 17th because these days will be on Friday, and they will be a religious holiday for Muslims. But according to the State Administration Law and the Law of Elections stipulates that these elections should not be delayed more than 15 of December. So that we don't want to make any violations in these.

Q (Through interpreter.) From Kyoto, the Japanese News Agency. Could you please give us the number of the polling sites in Iraq?

IECI MEMBER: We have about 6,300 polling sites, and these polling sites have many stations. Maybe each polling site have five to six polling stations. So we expect more than 31,000 polling stations all over Iraq.

Q (Through interpreter.) Some lists have withdrawn in favor of other lists. Are you aware of these changes? And some elections lists are still using the religious symbols in their election campaigns, despite the fact that you rejected this procedure.

IECI MEMBER: No election list has the right to withdraw from the coalition. If they do that, we consider them as if they are still in the elections, and parliament will deal with this.

As for the use of religious symbols during the election campaigns, we issued a statement, and maybe we'll get a copy of this statement today. We talked about this issue. On this issue, we explained that the main principle in the criminal laws is that if there is any crime or there should be a test -- so we have to verify this.

Q (Through interpreter.) I have two questions. Did the Electoral Commission -- did you set a date for the counting of votes? Do you have a plan to set certain days for counting the votes? And recently, the deputy prime minister, Ahmad Chalabi, said that he will ask the Electoral Commission to cancel the name of Dr. Iyad Allawi from his list because he made many illegal violations, and he said some of them are criminal violations. IECI MEMBER: As you know -- as for the counting of votes, we want to announce the results and count the votes as soon as possible, but there are other factors which we should take into consideration.

Among these is that we have three days for complaints and contestation. And we need to look into these complaints and contestations, and take decisions about them. And after that, we check these results. So if there is any violation which is not examined at the day of the elections, this mistake could be discovered by technical procedures.

And there are many electronic procedures to discover fraud. And anyway, if I get a ballot box and fill it with ballot cards, the system will reject this ballot box.

As for the delay of the results, it is because we want to make sure of the results and check them well. Until now, we haven't received any demand from Dr. Chalabi. And I don't think that such demands would be legal. If there's any objection about any candidate, this should be done during special organizations.

Q (Through interpreter.) Have you set a time for counting the votes?

IECI MEMBER: No, we haven't set that.

Q (Through interpreter.) The Integrity Committee gave you the names of three ministers, together with the governor of Diyala, because they are accused of corruption, and they have no right to take part in the elections. Have you informed them?

IECI MEMBER: Yes, we have informed these candidates. But the message we received from the Integrity Committee says that they are accused of corruption, and you know that the accused is presumed innocent until he is proved guilty. That's why we are waiting for the verdict of the court to decide that.

Q (Through interpreter.) How will you guarantee the ballot boxes to the troubled areas in Iraq?

IECI MEMBER: We have taken the necessary measures to -- in the hot and troubled areas. And the ballot boxes will arrive in these areas, and the electoral commission, in coordination with the Multinational Forces and the Ministry of Interior and Defense -- the committee will open polling in Al Anbar province. And the scheduled number was 203 polling sites, but we are going to open 154 polling sites all over Ramadi, beginning from Ramadi and until the borders. Q (Through interpreter.) There are some politicians who cast doubt about these elections before these elections are held. What do you -- how do you explain this? Are they afraid that they are going to fail in these elections?

And how do you answer to these accusations?

IECI MEMBER: We cannot pass any judgment on anything until it happens. And there are -- you know there are many international criteria. The United Nations are taking part in this process, and United Nations workers are applying international criteria. And we have developed these criteria, and among these criteria is that persons should cast his vote in the same polling site in which his name is registered. And we call on all the monitors to stay in the polling sites until the end of voting.

In the past period we employed some people from the government offices, and we received some complaints because some of these people are working for some political parties. So in this time, we chose the monitors by computer. In addition to that, the Electoral Commission will send central committees to all the governorates in Iraq to monitor the elections. And we have developed a certain formula for complaints, so anybody who wants to make a complaint can fill these forms, and the directors of the polling stations should sign these forms to ensure that the complaints will arrive to the Electoral Commission.

Q (Through interpreter.) The minister of Justice said that most of the detainees will be able to cast their votes in the next elections, especially those who are sentenced with less than five years in prison. What did you do for this issue?

IECI MEMBER: There is special election -- or voting called special voting. It includes the military and the police forces, and patients in the hospitals and the detainees. Until now, we haven't taken a decision about the detainees, whether they are going to take part in the elections. And even in the hospitals, we cannot go to each hospital and health clinic.

Q (Through interpreter.) I mean, the prisons of Bucca, Abu Ghraib and the international airport.

IECI MEMBER: Yes, the elections will take place in these places.

Thank you very much.

END.



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