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Iraqi Expats To Cast Votes In 14 Countries

Iraq -- An Iraqi nurse casts her ballot in a box in an election station at a local hospital in Baghdad on Monday 12 Dec. 2005
BAGHDAD -- Iraq says that 14 countries have agreed to open voting centers for Iraqi expats for the upcoming parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reports.

Miqdad al-Sharifi, head of the Irbil-based Iraqi expat voters bureau, told RFI that most of the preparations for the March 7 parliamentary elections have been completed and that voting stations for Iraqi expats are to open in Turkey, Iran, and Jordan in the next few days. He said Iraqi electoral workers are already in those countries.

Sharifi said that in addition to those three countries, Iraqi expats will also be able to vote in Lebanon, Australia, the Netherlands, Austria, the
United States, Sweden, Canada, Syria, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. He said approval to open voting stations in Britain and Denmark is still pending.

Sharifi said the Independent High Electoral Commission estimates that there are 1.9 million Iraqi voters living abroad. He said that number is based on statistics provided by the Foreign Ministry, the Immigrants Ministry, and the United Nations refugee agency, and will be updated after the parliamentary vote.