Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Iraqi election rigged by security forces, poll monitors find

BAGHDAD: Election monitors in Iraq have raised significant concerns over the conduct of last week's national poll.

A report details violations across the country and has evidence of the army and police interfering with voting on March 7.

The report says the security forces were urging people to vote for a list of candidates in some provinces. Election monitors saw "a number of security forces even within the voting hall".

Party leaders have alleged widespread fraud, although Western diplomats say at least some of these are attempts to discredit the poll.

The independent report detailing widespread irregularities was compiled by the Tammuz Organisation for Social Development, the Election Integrity Monitoring Team and the Shams Network for Monitoring Elections - all Iraqi institutions with Western backing. They posted observers at 41,652 of the 52,000 polling stations.

Observers reported the names of thousands of voters were missing, despite the fact a large number were registered in the previous elections.

Supporters of former prime minister Iyad Allawi claimed up to 250,000 members of the armed forces were unable to vote.

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