U.N.: No Justification for Iraq Re-Vote

The United Nations has reached a preliminary conclusion that the recent Iraqi election, while far from problem free, was sufficiently legitimate as to make calls for a re-vote unwarranted.

U.N.: No Justification for Iraq Re-Vote (AP)

A United Nations official said Wednesday that Iraq’s recent elections were credible and there was no justification for a rerun of the vote that gave a strong lead to the Shiite religious bloc dominating the current government.


The Shiite bloc held talks with Kurdish leaders and said preparations were being made to choose a candidate for prime minister — who they have said must come from their governing United Iraqi Alliance. “We set up the mechanism to elect the new prime minister but have not started it yet. Any member of the Alliance has the right to be nominated for that post,” Alliance leader Abdul Aziz al-Hakim told the Kurdish parliament. Alliance officials have indicated likely candidates were current Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who heads the Islamic Dawa party, and Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who belongs to the other main Shiite party, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Al-Hakim also discussed who should get the top 12 government jobs, as thousands of Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites protested what they say was a tainted vote.

Two Sunni Arab groups and former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqi National List have threatened a wave of protests and civil disobedience if fraud charges are not properly investigated. In another of continuing political demonstrations across the country, more than 4,000 people rallied Wednesday in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, in favor of the major Sunni Arab party, the Iraqi Accordance Front. Demonstrators carried banners say “We refuse the election forgery.”

The United Nations official, Craig Jenness, said at a news conference organized by the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq that the U.N.-led international election assistance team found the elections to be credible and transparent. “Turnout was high and the day was largely peaceful, all communities participated.” His statement and the negotiations between Iraqi factions come at a critical time, with the United States placing high hopes on forming a broad-based coalition government that will provide the fledgling democracy with the stability and security it needs to allow American troops to begin returning home.

Iraqi officials said they had found some instances of fraud that were enough to cancel the results in that place, but not to hold a rerun. There were more than 1,500 complaints made about the elections, with about 50 of them considered serious enough to possibly result in the cancellation of results in some places. “After studying all the complaints, and after the manual and electronic audit of samples of ballot boxes in the provinces, the electoral commission will announce within the next few days some decisions about canceling the results in stations where fraud was found,” said Abdul Hussein Hendawi, an elections official. He said fraud had been discovered in the provinces of Baghdad, Irbil, Ninevah, Kirkuk, Anbar and Diyala.

Jenness said the number of complaints was less than one in every 7,000 voters. About 70 percent of Iraq’s 15 million voters took part in the elections. He added that the U.N. saw no reason to hold a new ballot. “Complaints must be adjudicated fairly, but we in the United Nations see no justification in calls for a rerun of any election,” he said.

While I have minimal confidence in the United Nations as a monitor of corrupt practices, especially as it concerns Iraq, this is almost certainly right. A lot of people are understandably disappointed in the outcome of the balloting, but there is precious little evidence that the results would be much different if all the irregularies had been contained.

Previously at OTB:

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.