Monday, January 24, 2005

"Elections" coming up

When 1 million Palestinians voted for a successor to Yasser Arafat, 800 international observers poured into the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to monitor the polling. Former president Jimmy Carter and former Swedish prime minister Carl Bildt led one team. A former French prime minister led another, and there were two U.S. congressional delegations.

When 8 million Afghans voted in October, at least 122 international observers from across Europe and Asia monitored the presidential election -- and declared it an "orderly and transparent process."

But in Iraq, where 14 million people are eligible to vote, the elections next week may have only one outsider from the hastily organized International Mission for Iraqi Elections to evaluate the balloting.

There will be no neutral outside group deployed across Iraq to determine whether voters are impeded, ballot boxes are stuffed, any party tries to interfere with the process or votes are counted fairly. No congressional delegation will monitor the polls, and the European Union announced last week that it had declined an invitation from Iraq to send observers. The Carter Center, which has monitored more than 50 elections overseas, also decided not to send observers.


Iraq does have about 6,000 of its own first-time monitors culled from 150 organizations, but that figure is low -- one for every 2,300 registered voters. The Palestinians had 21,000 observers -- about one for every 50 voters. And Afghanistan had 5,300 observers, 22,000 party agents and 52,000 candidate agents.
  WaPo article

If the observers are getting the same treatment as the candidates, they may not last till election day, anyway.
The International Mission for Iraqi Elections was pulled together just last month to provide a stamp of international legitimacy. "The idea was that the elections would go ahead but there would be so much cynicism and doubt in the outside world that unless there was a credible and objective organization involved to evaluate it and provide expert opinion, even a relatively good election could be put in doubt," said Les Campbell, an expert on the Middle East who is working on Iraq's elections for the National Democratic Institute.
So now that they have a "credible and objective organization" of one person, the doubt has been put to rest.

....hey, do what you will anyway.

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