Periódico 26 / Cuba – 2005-01-27 00:38:39
HAVANA (January 19, 2004) — The US president, now nearly bereft of arguments, continues insisting that his country invaded and destroyed Iraq to install western style democracy there and to hold presidential elections on January 30, to demonstrate that the system is capable of doing so.
The evidence, however, indicates that we are about to see the holding of the least democratic and least participatory elections ever. Iraq’s interim government, installed by the invaders to soften their image, has already announced that two days before the elections, all ground, air and sea access will be totally sealed off until Monday, January 31. What’s more, no vehicles will be allowed on Iraqi streets without special authorization, which will be granted to occupation forces and interim government on the pretext of avoiding attacks during the balloting.
So. practically speaking. no one will be able to enter or leave the country, or even their homes, without previous permission, which means that the only voters will be those authorized by the occupation forces.
On the other hand, the occupiers have admitted that in a full quarter of Iraqi territory it will be difficult to hold elections. That includes the cities of Baghdad and Mosul, which are among the country’s most populated.
It would be funny if it weren’t so tragically true, but when presidential candidate, Hussein Ali was asked why he hadn’t waged an electoral campaign, he replied simply that he had to keep his candidacy “a secret”, in order to protect his life. In fact, most of the candidates have been unable to campaign because that would require costly bodyguards and armored cars or helicopters in which to travel throughout the country and those privileges are reserved for Washington’s candidate, Iyad Alawi.
For the rest, the campaign is strictly “inter-mural”. Everyone already knows who will win the masquerade disguised as elections. The organizers themselves say that 17 million Iraqis have been convened, a million of whom will vote abroad, fundamentally in the United States, Great Britain and Australia.
The truth is that after the great destruction caused by the war and occupation, no public electoral lists exist, it is difficult if not impossible to establish who is who and who is alive, especially in cities which were raised, like Fallujah and entire neighborhoods of Baghdad.
If despite all this, the United States insists on holding elections, they won’t change the situation of a country at war, with its economy destroyed and its social fabric at the edge of collapse.
A country in which 70 percent are unemployed, thousands of families are without electricity and drinking water and the lack of services is proportional to the rise in disease, hunger and poverty.
After what we have seen in the last presidential elections in the United States nothing should come as a surprise. But to try and call what is now being mounted in Iraq an “exercise in democracy”, is truly beyond the pale.
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