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By Yasser Alaskary in Baghdad
December 28 , 2004

In a move set to vindicate Iraqis in their suspicions of rigged elections in January, Washington officials are looking to add Sunnis to the 275-member national assembly, even if they lose to non-Sunni candidates. Although the US continues to state their aim is to allow a true democracy to flourish in Iraq, such a promise is looking bleaker as elections draw closer. Maneuvers of this type only serve to confirm to Iraqis that US intentions are disingenuous and all talk of Iraq becoming a beacon of democracy and liberty in the Middle East is in fact insincere and mere rhetoric.

  • If such a maneuver stems from fear of illegitimate elections, as some parties continue to threaten an alleged boycott, then implementing such a quota above and beyond free and fair democratic results will in itself lead to illegitimate elections. Furthermore, if the Iraqi Islamic Party is to be taken as an example of alleged Sunni boycotting, then one only needs to look at the pattern of their threats: they first threatened not to register their party to run for elections, and continued to threaten, but when no one paid them much attention and it came down to the deadline, they registered their party. Then, prior to the deadline of submitting candidate names, they again threatened to boycott, but when once again no one paid attention to them, they eventually submitted one of the largest candidate lists with 275 names. And now, they have chosen the perfect timing to claim to boycott elections as the ballots have already gone to print and their list is included on the ballots. So, unless their claims are taken seriously (by enforced quota talks, etc) this time round, their threats of boycott will once again be mere intimidation. These intimidation tactics are born from the party's concern over their lack of actual consituency amongst the Iraqi population.

  • As election turnout is expected to be as high as 84%, implementing Sunni quotas will only serve to diminish Sunni participation as they will believe that there is no need for their vote when their share in parliament is guaranteed.

  • Such an artificial quota will not satisfy Sunnis as:

    • They claim to represent at least 53% of Iraq and so anything less than a majority in parliament will still be regarded as under-representation.
    • The ordinary Sunni population will not feel any loyalty towards their 'representatives' as they will not have voted them in- the very same cloud that hangs over the current interim government.
    • Those who will be appointed under an enforced percentage will continue to be considered traitors and collaborators by the Arabic media, the Baath Party, and the Salafis - the three pillars constituting the insurgency.
  • Making up 65% of the population, Shias feel they were given the short end of the stick in the Governing Council and current government percentages, but despite this, they have been patient in awaiting the elections and allowing democracy to dictate Iraq's future. If candidate lists which do not attain 0.36% of the national vote (the minimum threshold required for a list to win a seat) are allowed free passes to the national assembly, Shia patience will run out as they will not tolerate a repetition of history and their continued marginalization and unfair representation. A list not representative enough to attain 0.36% of the national vote is clearly not representative of the population and has no legitimate place in parliament.
  • Secretary Powell, not best known for his enthusiasm for genuine democracy in Iraq, expressed the possibility of representation issues being dealt with once the national assembly is elected. As no elected national assembly will ever vote to undo the election results which put it into power in the first place, Powell is clearly putting a post-election rigging out in the open so that it may slowly gain acceptance.

If Iraq is allowed to be a genuine democracy, it will, as all true democratic countries do, have constitutional provisions for all its ethnic and religious groups, not least for minorities. The need for pre- , intra- or post-election rigging of the national assembly is therefore unnecessary.

 

© 2007 Iraqi Prospect Organisation
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