Anomalies in Iraq constitution vote

Anomalies in Iraq constitution vote

BAGHDAD – Iraqi election officials were verifying ballots yesterday from the historic referendum on the country’s new constitution after the discovery of “anomalies” in the vote.

The checks have delayed an announcement of the results of the vote on the charter that lays down the democratic foundations for a new Iraq following the toppling of former dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime in April 2003. Saddam himself is due to go on trial amid tight security tomorrow along with seven of his former cohorts on a charge of crimes against humanity over a Shi’ite massacre in 1982.Confusion has surrounded the count since Iraqis voted on the draft constitution on Saturday, and election officials on Monday announced that the results would be delayed after reporting unusually high figures.”The first controls are now taking place,” in what would eventually be a nationwide audit,” an electoral official told AFP on condition of anonymity.”We are not ruling out technical error or fraud, but for now it is only a question of anomalies.”Problems with initial figures transmitted to the Independent Electoral Commission were found in southern Shi’ite provinces as well as in Kurdish areas in the north, where “the figures were very high,” the source said.Those provinces voted overwhelmingly in favour of the charter, although Sunni Arabs are largely opposed to the text, fearing it could lead to the break-up of the country and put its oil wealth in the hands of Shi’ites and Kurds.”When you have more than 90 per cent ‘yes’, computers signal it immediately and there is a manual check.It means the figures must be looked at closely,” the source said.The constitution will be adopted if a majority of voters approve it but will be rejected if two-thirds of voters in three or more governorates cast their ballots against it.However, under last-minute changes agreed in a bid to win Sunni support, a committee is to be set up following new elections in December to consider further revisions to the charter.In Baghdad, workers were checking and rechecking vote counts after the electoral commission said it would take “several more days to complete this difficult and complex operation.”Commission spokesman Farid Ayyar told AFP the figures referred to the percentage of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes, rather than the rate of participation.”This will require re-examination, comparison and verification because they are relatively high compared with international averages for elections,” a commission statement said.”The commission will only announce results when they have been verified.”It had already said that six majority Shi’ite provinces in southern Iraq had voted by more than 90 per cent in favour of the constitution, while two Sunni-dominated provinces appeared to have rejected the text, by 80 per cent in Salaheddin and by 54 percent in Diyala.- Nampa-AFPSaddam himself is due to go on trial amid tight security tomorrow along with seven of his former cohorts on a charge of crimes against humanity over a Shi’ite massacre in 1982.Confusion has surrounded the count since Iraqis voted on the draft constitution on Saturday, and election officials on Monday announced that the results would be delayed after reporting unusually high figures.”The first controls are now taking place,” in what would eventually be a nationwide audit,” an electoral official told AFP on condition of anonymity.”We are not ruling out technical error or fraud, but for now it is only a question of anomalies.”Problems with initial figures transmitted to the Independent Electoral Commission were found in southern Shi’ite provinces as well as in Kurdish areas in the north, where “the figures were very high,” the source said.Those provinces voted overwhelmingly in favour of the charter, although Sunni Arabs are largely opposed to the text, fearing it could lead to the break-up of the country and put its oil wealth in the hands of Shi’ites and Kurds.”When you have more than 90 per cent ‘yes’, computers signal it immediately and there is a manual check.It means the figures must be looked at closely,” the source said.The constitution will be adopted if a majority of voters approve it but will be rejected if two-thirds of voters in three or more governorates cast their ballots against it.However, under last-minute changes agreed in a bid to win Sunni support, a committee is to be set up following new elections in December to consider further revisions to the charter.In Baghdad, workers were checking and rechecking vote counts after the electoral commission said it would take “several more days to complete this difficult and complex operation.”Commission spokesman Farid Ayyar told AFP the figures referred to the percentage of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ votes, rather than the rate of participation.”This will require re-examination, comparison and verification because they are relatively high compared with international averages for elections,” a commission statement said.”The commission will only announce results when they have been verified.”It had already said that six majority Shi’ite provinces in southern Iraq had voted by more than 90 per cent in favour of the constitution, while two Sunni-dominated provinces appeared to have rejected the text, by 80 per cent in Salaheddin and by 54 percent in Diyala.- Nampa-AFP

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