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Iraqi Electoral Head Discusses Constitutional Referendum

Iraqi Independent Election Commission Director-General Adil al-Lami discussed preparations for the upcoming referendum on the constitution in an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) on 7 October, and revealed that prisoners and detainees will be allowed to vote on the draft constitution.

Al-Lami: Basically, we will open polling stations in Umm Qasr detention camp and in Abu Ghurayb prison. Today, we should also complete a thorough study of the possibility of opening some polling stations in some hospitals in big [i.e., populated] governorates or in prisons where there are at least 100 inmates.

RFI: A few days ago, the National Assembly amended an older legal regulation concerning the definition of a vote. How do you, as the [Iraqi Independent Election] Commission, assess the amendment with respect to its version in the Transitional Administrative Law?

Al-Lami: The National Assembly consists of representatives of the people. Any decision it makes is regarded as a decision of the Iraqi people. The latest amendment conforms the criteria of representative democracy and law. It prohibits any double standard in interpreting the votes as it sets a single measure toward the voters. This will definitely facilitate the process and will better contribute to transparency.

RFI: What is the latest number of the political groups that have been registered for participation in the next elections [in December]?

Al-Lami: We have received requests for the registration of more than 340 political entities, both individuals as well as political groups and parties. For the time being, more than 100 political entities have been approved. Within the coming two days, the measures for approving the remaining part will hopefully have been completed. The deadline for the registration of political entities [formally] terminated on 30 September, but the National Office can receive requests from candidate lists willing to participate in the elections until 21 October.

RFI: Let us go back to the UN role. According to some reports, six teams of international observers have been sent to observe the referendum. Is this true?

Al-Lami: Yes, there have been a number of international observers who have received credentials from the [Iraqi Independent Election] Commission, and that number may be further growing in the coming days. They will fulfill their role in some particular areas where security and stability are provided. There are also local observers and delegates of political entities. Currently, there are in fact more than 100,000 observers.

RFI: Other reports say that more than 20 countries have applied to [participate in expatriate] voting at the end of this year. Can you give some brief information on those countries and the kind of preparations that those countries and you, as the [Iraqi Independent Election] Commission, have undertaken for the elections?

Al-Lami: We are waiting for more information from the Foreign Ministry, the Displacement and Migration [Ministry], and some other sources. For the time being, we have some 20 countries. This number is still open and may possibly increase or decrease. In countries with the biggest concentration of Iraqis, mechanisms will be set for the cooperation between the [Iraqi Independent Election] Commission and [local] authorities.

(Translation by Petr Kubalek)

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