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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


06 January 2005

Fourteen Countries to Host Expatriate Iraqi Voting Sites

As many as 1 million Iraqi expatriates could be eligible to vote

By David Shelby
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington – Expatriate Iraqis will have the opportunity to vote in Iraq’s January 30 elections at out-of-country voting sites in 14 countries. 

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) announced January 5 that it has concluded agreements with Syria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, the last three countries on the list of nations that the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) identified as countries with significant Iraqi expatriate populations.

The IECI, which is the Iraqi national body charged with administering the elections, decided to open the vote to expatriate Iraqis and commissioned the IOM to manage the out-of-country voting (OCV) program in a memorandum of understanding signed in November 2004.

The IOM estimates that the 14 countries designated as OCV sites might have as many as 1 million Iraqi expatriates who are eligible to participate in the elections.

According to the Transitional Administrative Law, Iraqis are allowed to hold multiple citizenships.  The law also restores citizenship to all Iraqis whose nationality was stripped under the previous regime for political, religious, racial or sectarian reasons.

Iraqis seeking to cast out-of-country ballots will be required to register in person at designated voting centers with documentation in support of their claims to Iraqi citizenship.  Registration will take place during the week of January 17.  Voters will then have to return to the voting centers to cast their ballots between January 28 and 30.

Expatriate Iraqis will only be allowed to vote in the elections for the Transitional National Assembly, the 275-seat national legislature that will draft Iraq’s new constitution.  They will not receive ballots for the provincial council elections.

A domestic Iraqi opinion poll, conducted in late November and early December 2004, indicated that more than 70 percent of the Iraqi population supports the right of expatriates to vote in the elections.  The poll, which was commissioned by the International Republican Institute, surveyed the opinions of nearly 2,000 eligible voters across Iraq.

Countries with the largest estimated expatriate Iraqi populations are Syria, with 250,000; the United States, with 230,000; Jordan, with 180,000; and the United Kingdom, with 150,000.

In addition to these four countries, voting will be conducted in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iran, the Netherlands, Sweden, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.  Altogether, these 10 countries add an estimated 402,000 Iraqis to the expatriate total.

Expatriate Iraqis who live in other countries are allowed to vote at the OCV sites in one of the 14 designated countries, but they must make their own travel arrangements to register and vote in person at the polling station.

Votes will be counted in each of the 14 countries, and results will be submitted to the OCV headquarters in Amman, Jordan, where they will be compiled and sent to Baghdad.

The IOM is coordinating polling activities and security arrangements with the governments of each country and the local Iraqi communities.

Following is a list of the cities in which polling stations will be established:

-- Australia: Melbourne and Sydney

-- Canada: Calgary, Ottawa and Toronto

-- Denmark: Copenhagen

-- France: Paris

-- Germany: Berlin, Cologne, Mannheim and Munich

-- Iran: Ahvaz, Kermanshah, Mashhad, Orumiyeh, Qom and Tehran

-- Jordan: Amman

-- The Netherlands: Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Zwolle

-- Sweden: Gothenburg and Stockholm

-- Syria: Damascus

-- Turkey: Ankara, Istanbul

-- United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi, Dubai

-- United Kingdom: Glasgow, London and Manchester

-- The United States: Chicago; Detroit; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tennessee; and Washington

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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