When I read about the voting for the Iraqi draft constitution going the ‘Yes’ way, and the Americans praising the Iraqis, including and especially the Sunnis, for coming to their senses in voting for it - that even the Sunnis are now tired of war, wanted peace and democratic process - I thought notwithstanding all that, it was sure strange that the Sunnis would vote for something that would disadvantage them. Ahhh well, who was I to know an Iraqi mind.
Then the TV and news online started to come out with some naughty stuff going on. For a start, I saw with my own eyes on Aussie TV an Iraqi (obviously either a Shiite or Kurd) happily voting 'Yes' right in front of the TV crew in a polling station, but several times because he held a thick sheaf of ballot papers. He was blissfully ticking the 'Yes' box, ballot paper after ballot paper.
So it shouldn't be strange that the ‘Yes’ votes were not just high but way too high. In one region it was so high that the total ‘Yes’ votes have been MORE than the number of registered voters.
Additionally, there have been accusations that the Shiite/Kurd police and soldiers took ballot boxes away from the staunch ‘No’ districts.
Oh la la - nothing like a jolly double-pronged attack.
No one was arguing about hugh ‘Yes’ votes in Kurdish or Shiite areas but the unusually high affirmative votes in ‘mixed’ areas have led to accusations of vote rigging.
The main electoral battlegrounds are provinces with mixed populations, two of which went strongly and very strangely ’Yes’, which are just not statistically possible. In these two areas, the accusations of fraud have been most strident.
The Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission has suspended any announcement of results because they too reckoned figures obtained in several governorates are too dodgy and require re-examination, comparison and verification. The results are suspiciously high compared with international averages for elections of this kind.
I am not entirely surprised as the constitution has been driven very keenly by the Americans, who unfortunately made the unmitigated mistake of marginalising 20% of the population in the post-Saddam political process. The 20% Sunnis are currently the ones sympathetic to and also providing the mainstay of the local insurgency.
But with the heavy hands of the American overlord, I expect the election results, regardless of charges of fraud and rigging, will carry through. The American exit strategy pivots around the approval of Iraq's draft constitution.