UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
IRAQ: Focus on election outcome
BAGHDAD , 14 February 2005 (IRIN) –
Iraq 's historic ballot gave 8.6 million out of an eligible 14 million people in the country, and nearly 310,000 Iraqis abroad, the chance to choose a 275-member interim national assembly along with a new regional 111-member parliament in the north. The turnout was estimated to be some 60 percent in the country and more than 90 percent for those living abroad. Final results released on Sunday show the United Alliance party, backed by Shi'ite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, as the winner with 48 percent of the vote, with the Kurdish parties following with some 26 percent. The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) made the announcement after two weeks of counting and delays due to the recounting of nearly 300 boxes from the northern city of Mosul and the central Sunni triangle area. Last week officals announced that some 18,000 people in Mosul were unable to vote due to ballot box rigging. However, it may take more than a week before final names for the national assembly are made public. On Monday, the IECI gave a breakdown of seats: Shi'ite alliance -141 seats. Kurdish alliance - 75 seats, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's list - 40 seats, and interim Iraqi President Ghazi Yawar - five seats. "Today marks the birth of a new Iraq and free people," the spokesman of the IECI, Farid Ayar, told reporters. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the results reflect not only the courage and determination of the Iraqi people, but also their commitment to the political transition process that their country is undergoing. NGOs in the country believe that after more than a month of intense fighting between insurgents and US troops in some hot spots, it was now time to discuss peace with the new government to prevent the continuing attacks and to concentrate on people's needs. "We will offer all our services to the new government in order to help them to make a better country for Iraqis if they really show a true interest in helping them," Firdous al-Abadi, a spokeswoman for the Iraq Red Crescent Society (IRCS), told IRIN.
CONCERNS OVER IDP PARTICIPATION
IECI officials told IRIN that internally displaced people (IDPs) from the cities of Fallujah, some 60 km from Baghdad , and Kirkuk and Mosul in the north were able to participate due to the improvised polling stations in the areas in the capital or in temporary camps. Around 6,000 IDPs from areas around Fallujah are said to have cast their vote. Farid Ayar of the IECI told IRIN that only 2 percent of eligible voters in the central al-Anbar province cast ballots and only 30 percent in the Salahdine province, some 180 km from Baghdad . Around 100,000 Kurdish IDPs uprooted from the Kirkuk area were permitted to vote locally following a decision by the Iraqi authorities in mid-January. Exceptional arrangements were also made for over 200,000 people displaced from Fallujah, he said. Numerous observers had raised concerns that many IDPs would not have been able to vote because they had lost the required personal documentation, either while fleeing or as a result of destruction of their homes. "I wish that I had voted in the election and helped to give a vote to my Iraqi brothers, but all my documents were in Fallujah and my home was destroyed. I couldn't do anything," Sinan al-Abbas, a Fallujah resident camped outside the city, told IRIN. Members of parliament will have to choose a president and two deputies, who will have to unanimously pick a prime minister. The new prime minister will choose the cabinet that has to be approved by a majority in the parliament. The new national assembly will write a permanent constitution which will cover the new presidential arrangements as well as the ways to choose the next government, for which elections are expected to be held in December. But the IDPs from Fallujah are most in need. Even with religious differences they are searching for someone who can restore their homes and peace inside the city. "God bless the Shi'ites in the new government and bring to them a good heart so they help us to be back in our city, far from insurgents and US troops, and we can live with peace and a minimum of dignity," Muhssen Abdul Jelel,52, an IDP camped near Fallujah, told IRIN.
SECURITY IS A KEY ISSUE
On the streets of the capital, the only thing that can be heard about the election results is how the new interim government will help their future and repair all the damaged essential sectors of Iraq . According to officials from the Ministry of Interior, security was still the most complicated issue to be tackled. Sabah Kadham, deputy minister of interior, told IRIN that they were concerned over how the new government was going to make the country secure and how they would be able to stop continuing terrorist attacks. "I just wish good luck to the new government. It will have a lot of work to do to guarantee safety for the Iraqis' lives," he said. So far, at least 85,000 police officers have been trained in the country, according to government officials, with a target of 150,000 to be reached. After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 the police and army was disbanded. Some voters believe that the Shi'ite victory could cause more trouble as there is resistance from pro-Saddam Hussein, Sunni factions, who also boycotted the elections. Despite Shi'ites making up the majority of the population, under Saddam, who was a Sunni Muslim, they were not favoured. "When you see that your city is quiet, it just makes me more worried about what the insurgents are preparing against the new government. We need tranquillity but with the Shi'ites wining the election, bad things may start to happen from now on," Sajida al-Obeid, who voted for a Sunni party, told IRIN. New tactics are supposed to be used by the new government and, according to officials from the United Alliance, as soon as they take up their places insecurity will be the first issue to be tackled.
Themes: (IRIN) Conflict, (IRIN) Early Warning, (IRIN) Economy, (IRIN) Governance, (IRIN) Human Rights, (IRIN) Refugees/IDPs
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