Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Iraq Constitution Sits Atop Dodgy Figures

The Iraqi commission spokesman Farid Ayyar announced the approval of the draft constitution and acclaimed it as an accomplishment for all Iraqis. The final results of the referendum on the draft constitution took 10 days of counting, a period during which accusations of cheating abound.

To block the draft constitution, a minimum of three Iraqi provinces must vote ‘NO’, each by at least a two-thirds majority. Everyone expected the Sunnis to successfully achieve that because the Sunnis have an overwhelming majority in at least 3 provinces, namely Anbar, Salahuddin and Nineveh.

The Sunnis fear the proposed constitution because it will grossly disadvantage and marginalise them, effectively placing the oil-rich areas out of their reach but into the hands of the Shiites and separatist-inclined Kurds. This time the Sunnis turned out in full force to vote ‘NO’, unlike their boycott of the January elections. This time it matters to their future.

How then did sh*t happen? They have failed to block it despite all the inherent disadvantages to them!

The first two Sunni dominated provinces, Anbar and Salahuddin, as expected, polled over 80% against the constitution but in Nineveh where the Sunnis also form an overwhelming majority, they polled only a simple majority but not the 67% required.

Statistically, politically, and emotionally, this was virtually an impossibility because the Sunni represent a significant and 'hefty' majority in Ninevah. And with the Sunnis voting in tandem fashion across their 3 dominated provinces, it was unbelievable the Sunnis in Nineveh could only pull across the 55 percentile line, when by contrast in Salahuddin province their compatriots achieved a 88% majority. Only 67% was required for Nineveh to form part of the 3 blocking provinces but even this was not achieved in such a well established Sunni-majority area.

As an indicator of what must have transpired, in Iraq’s January election which was boycotted by the Sunnis, the Kurds and Shiites in Nineveh turned out in full force but could only muster a combined total of only 130,000 votes for Kurdish and Shiite candidates. Yet, in this referendum for the draft constitution, by an incredible miracle, the ‘YES’ votes almost tripled to 350,000. The ‘NO’ votes were only over 420,000, a majority but not enough to constitute the necessary two-thirds in the province to block the draft constitution.

The ‘sleigh of hands’ began with the Kurdish-dominated Independent(?) Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) in Nineveh announcing that based on 90% counting completed for the 300 voting stations in the province, 326,000 people had voted ‘YES’ for the constitution while 90,000 voted ‘NO’ - which was an unbelievable and overwhelming majority of nearly 80% for 'YES' in a province heavily dominated by a beseiged group that would be severely marginalised by the passing of the proposed constitution.

It's just as unbelievable as Ariel Sharon surrendering the city of Jerusalem to the Palesrtinians for the sake of peace.

As the Commission knew that the world’s eyes would be focused particularly on the 3 to 4 Sunni provinces, they wanted the media to accept these initial and obviously fabricated figures, signallying that Nineveh province has strongly supported the draft constitution, not only by a simple majority but by a landslide, a runaway victory so to speak. That way the Commission could effectively engender a belief that the result was more or less finalised, and more importantly dampened any further media curiosity or interest in Nineveh.

With the advantage of hindsight, it has become apparent that Nineveh was the crucial province selected for some special midnight polling count, whilst Anbar and Salahuddin were to be left to their true polling results. After the release of the misleading set of figures, the Commission down-ed periscope, went silent and issued no further results or progress.

Then the IECI's 'funny' figures was made even more ridiculous, ironically by the US military liasion when the latter independently released the final vote count. The US figures was a 424,491 'NO' votes and 353,348 'YES' votes, making it a total of 777,839 votes, round up to say, 778,000.

The US figures effectively made the earlier release by the IECI the biggest pile of bullsh*t. Remember, with 90% of the votes counted it was then 326,000 'YES' and 90,000 'NO'.

Let's look at the two sets of 'NO' votes released by different sources. First there was 90,000 (with 90% counting done), which then became 424,491, making almost a humongous 472% increase - yes sir, four hundred and seventy two percent. Can anyone find logic or an explanation in that low-gravity leap of Olympian proportion? The 'YES' moved up by a wee bit from its earlier figure, assuming that was even true.

Now, it seems that the IECI had used the period of information clampdown to work out a winning figure for the Sunnis but one that won't form a two-thirds blocking majority.

Second point - When Sunni turnouts in Salahuddin and Fallujah were both around 90%, how in the brazen world did the Nineveh IECI expect people to believe that the total voting in Nineveh comprised only 778,000 votes, which translates into the province's turnout as only 60% of eligible voters. This is really b-cube stuff, you know, Bullshit Baffles Brains stuff.

But 778,000 votes total? 60% turnout? These polling figures suggest that either the Sunnis could have shrunk into a minority from the overwhelming majority they have been (and in fact still are, in reality of course and not by IECI counted votes), or 40% of eligible voters, mainly Sunnis, were sleeping throughout the voting period.

During earlier allegations that cheating was rampant, the election commission's head, Adil al-Lami had pre-empted any suspicion about the results for Nineveh’s by saying that the province was not among those that appeared unusual. He said its results "were reasonable and balanced according to the nature of the population in those areas."

It seems that to al-Lamy, an initial 326,000 ‘YES’ votes against a paltry 90,000 ‘NO’ votes in a Sunni dominated area was not unusual, or that a ‘NO’ vote of 90,000 after 90% counting suddenly becoming over 424,000 votes was also not unusual.

Let's work out a wee simple Malaysian arithmetic - 10% remaining of a total of 778,000 voters = say a round up figure of 78,000; let's be generous and say that remaining 10% were all Sunnis voting 'NO', which then gives us 90K + 78K = 168,000 which still doesn't explain the US military released figure of 424,451 'NO' votes.

Saleh Al-Mutlaq and parliament member Meshaan al-Jubouri, both Sunnis of course, said polling officials in Ninevah had informed them that the provincial capital, Sunni-dominated Mosul, voted predominantly ‘NO’, by as high as 80%, which seemed to tally with general Sunni turnout in Anbar and Salahuddin, but the Electoral Commission of course reported a 50-50 split.

Additionally, it is known that the Assyrian Christians are against the draft constitution because its article 135 subdivides the Christian community into Chaldeans and Assyrians, a rather nasty legislative manipulation which can be exploited by the Kurds to expropriate Christian lands and villages in North Iraq. Precisely because of this, the Iraqi Christians have been campaigning vigorously against the draft constitution.

al-Mutlaq told reporters that members of the Iraqi National Guard (dominated by Kurds in the north and Shiites in the south) seized ballot boxes from a polling station in Mosul and transferred them to a governorate office controlled by Kurds.

His allegations have been supported by a similar report lodged by a former US military liaison with the Nineveh province IECI. The US major too confirmed a similar incident of seizure of ballot boxes from a polling station during the January elections. Major Anthony Cruz added that Kurdish militiamen tried to bribe local electoral commission staff to accept ballots that had obviously been tampered with. Cruz also confirmed a much larger ballot-stuffing scheme by Kurdish officials in the province.

I had predicted in my earlier post on the election that regardless of reported irregularities, fraud and rigging in the conduct of voting and its subsequent counting, the election will be declared as a victory for the draft constitution - too much is at stake for most parties, save for the Sunnis and Iraqi Christians.

But I don’t see the Sunnis now lying down quietly over this Nineveh scam in particular, or the passing of the dreaded (for them) constitution in general. I don't see how a connived piece of paper can bring peace to Iraq. I fear the insurgency movement will gain even more recruits. Unfortunately ordinary innocent Iraqis have to brace themselves for more of the same, what they are tragically experiencing now.

Related:
Iraq’s Voting Fraud

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