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Independent Election Commission Spokesman Speaks To RFI

Farid Ayar, a member of the Board of Commissioners at the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission, told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) on 7 October that the commission is prepared to carry out the 15 October referendum on the constitution, Baghdad correspondent Laith Ahmed reported.

Ayar: All measures necessary for a clear, transparent, and democratic performance of the referendum on the constitution have been completed. All ballot items have already been transported to polling centers in all governorates of Iraq. We are going to issue new sets [of regulations] to facilitate the process of the referendum and, later, the election. We have issued nine sets [of regulations] until now for the organization of this process. We are working hard so that the referendum day, which starts at 7 o’clock in the morning, will be a nice day for all Iraqis.

RFI: Ayar added that meetings have been going on between the Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission and the Iraqi Defense and Interior ministries on securing citizens on referendum day.

Ayar: Of course, we hope there will be no [security] gaps because any gap can result in a grave damage on that important day. We are confident that our armed forces -- the police, the army, and the National Guard -- will perform their tasks and keep themselves far from polling centers so as not to interfere in the issues of the balloting process. This is an issue related to the establishment of democracy and the transparency of political action in Iraq.

RFI: Ayar explained that the current military operations in western Iraq aim at providing security to citizens. He referred to the wish of the residents of those areas to participate in the referendum.

Ayar: Speaking about the western areas [of Iraq], we can see they are calm now, to some extent. Someone can say there are military operations taking place. But whether the area is “boiling” or “calm” depends on the extent to which citizens have accepted the political process. We have heard through our contacts and meetings with political leaders from those areas that all of them are preparing to participate in the referendum and later in the election. On the question whether the areas are “boiling” or “calm” from the military standpoint, I believe that what is taking place now is merely an attempt to destroy nests of terror and nothing more. The goal of that is to enable the public there to arrive at the polling centers.

RFI: Ayar said that the number of Iraqis eligible to vote in the referendum has reached 15.5 million.

Ayar: In the process of updating voter registration, the total number of those [newly] registered, those who have changed their names, and those whose registrations have been cancelled, has reached some 1,062,000 people. This should be added to the previous number of approximately 14,369,000. We have also added those born in 1987. The total number of voters then becomes about 15.5 million people.

RFI: Which bodies will observe the referendum on the constitution?

Ayar: There are teams of observers that get registered every day. These will observe the process of the referendum and also the election at the end of this year. In addition, there are also delegates of political parties currently registering at the commission in high numbers. These will be able to observe the balloting process. We are ready to accept any team of observers that wants to present a request to observe the process, be they from Iraq, from Arab countries, or from other countries of the world.

RFI: Ayar expressed the hope that international observers would come to observe the referendum.

Ayar: We hope that teams of observers will arrive in Iraq to [monitor] polling centers. This will be very helpful for the [Iraqi Independent Electoral Commission] because whoever would like to cheat will know that observers are there. The commission naturally is not in a position to control the 6,000 polling centers in Iraq. Delegates will be able to do so -- the delegates of political groups and the teams of observers that are currently registering at the commission.

(Translation by Petr Kubalek)