Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sunni complaints lead to investigation

Some Sunni groups are disputing the recent voting results on the Iraq constitution. Now Iraq's Electoral Commission has decided to look into the matter:

Iraq's election commission announced Monday that officials were investigating "unusually high" numbers of "yes" votes in about a dozen provinces during Iraq's landmark referendum on a new constitution, raising questions about irregularities in the balloting.

Word of the review came as Sunni Arab leaders repeated accusations of fraud after initial reports from the provinces suggested the constitution had passed. Among the Sunni allegations are that police took ballot boxes from heavily "no" districts, and that some "yes" areas had more votes than registered voters.

The Electoral Commission made no mention of fraud, and an official with knowledge of the election process cautioned that it was too early to say whether the unusual numbers were incorrect or if they would affect the outcome.

These developments may be troubling to some but I look at it with great encouragement. Just the fact that voting results can be freely questioned in that country shows how dramatically things have changed in the last two years. Try to imagine anyone in Iraq disputing Saddam Hussein's sweeping victory in 2002 when he claimed to get 100% of the vote. It would have meant a guaranteed appointment with the paper shredder.

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