Media Disinformation on Voter Turnout?

January 31st, 2005 - by admin

Michel Chossudovsky / Global Research – 2005-01-31 09:03:43

(January 31, 2005) — Related Facts regarding Voter Turnout, which contradict the official figures and statements:

1. In five out of 18 governates, according to a Russian parliamentary observer, the elections were either cancelled due to the lack of security or were marked by a very low turnout. (Novosti, 30 Jan). This statement contradicts the figures presented by the IECI at the Press Conference, which indicate voter turnout of 50 per cent or more in all the governates. (including Sunni regions where there was a boycott, as confirmed by several press reports). (See Table 1 below)

2. According to Xinhua (5 hours before the close of polling stations): “The turnout was very low during the past few hours in Tikrit, Dujail, Balad and Tuz, much lower than expected,” a source in the electoral body told Xinhua. “In addition, no voters showed up in Baiji, Samarra and Dour,” said the source, who declined to be identified. The cities of Dujail and Balad have mixed population of Shiites and Sunnis, while Tuz has a mosaic of Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. In Tikrit, some 170 km north of Baghdad, 75 percent of the voting stations have not been visited till now. (Xinhua, 30 Jan 2005, 9 AM GMT)

3. Several cities in Iraq did not receive electoral materials, “In the city of Mosul, the deputy governor said that four towns did not receive the election process materials. How do you justify this? These towns are Bashqa, Bartillah, Al-Hamdaniyah and Jihan. They did not receive the material for the election process.” (Iraqi Al-Sharqiyah TV, 30 Jan)

Table 1: Breakdown of Voter Turnout according to IECI official : 2 hours before closing of voting booths

At the start of the live relay, Al-Lami listed the voter turnout in each governorate as follows:
• 70 per cent in Al-Sulaymaniyah Governorate (northeastern Iraq),
• 60 per cent in Salah-al-Din Governorate (north of Baghdad),
• 60 per cent in Al-Ta’mim Governorate (northern Iraq),
• 82 per cent in Duhok Governorate (far northern Iraq),
• 65 per cent in Baghdad Al-Rusafah,
• 95 per cent in Baghdad Al-Karkh,
• 90 per cent in Karbala (southeast of Baghdad),
• 50 per cent in Diyala (Governorate, northeast of Baghdad), 66 per cent in Babil (Governorate, south of Baghdad),
• 75 per cent in Wasit (Governorate, southeast of Baghdad), 66 per cent in Basra (Governorate, southeastern Iraq),
• 80 per cent in Dhi-Qar (Governorate, southeastern Iraq),
• 92 per cent in Maysan (Governorate on Iranian border, southern Iraq),
• 80 per cent in Al-Muthanna (Governorate, in southern Iraq),
• 50 per cent in Al-Qadisiyah (Governorate, to south of Baghdad), and
• 80 per cent in Al-Najaf (Governorate, southern Iraq).

Vote turnout in Al-Anbar (western Iraq) and Salah-al-Din governorates is a big surprise; it will be announced in the coming news conference (as heard), God willing. The number of polling centres opened is 5m171 in all of Iraq’s governorates.”

Source: IECI Press Conference, Al-Iraqiyah TV, Baghdad, in Arabic 1224 gmt 30 Jan 05


(January 30, 2005) — Text of satellite interview with Farid Ayyar, official spokesman of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, in Baghdad, by Iman Sadiq, broadcast live by Iraqi Al-Sharqiyah TV on 30 January.

Sadiq First of all, we welcome you. We are happy to have you with us in your capacity as a fellow journalist. You and your staff have performed very well in the Iraqi elections. This is a national effort, for which you should be thanked. This was not really expected. Secondly, we welcome you as the official spokesman of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI).

Ayyar Thank you very much and you are welcome.

Sadiq We have several questions to put to you, since you are the official spokesman of the IECI. But we want you to answer in your capacity as a fellow journalist as well. First of all, Al-Sharqiyah has received many complaints. Two hours before the polls closed, there was a news conference. You explained that the voter turnout had reached 72 per cent and in some areas 90 per cent. After the polls were closed and at a news conference, you told those present that the expected voter turnout was 60 per cent. Why this contradiction, although there was only a difference of two hours between the two statements?

Ayyar Thank you very much for your introduction, which was realistic, because the success of these elections does not concern a certain category or group. Rather, it concerns all Iraqis, including those who did not take part in the elections. Iraq is for all and the elections are for all. Therefore, responsibility should also be assumed by all.

Sadiq Dr Farid, why this contradiction?

Ayyar I will answer you. First of all, about the question that has to do with announcing a certain turnout; well, the percentage that was announced in the afternoon was an estimate and it depended on the flow of people in front of polling centres and not on official statistics produced by counting the ballots.

Sadiq On what did the percentages that were announced at the news conference depend? Were they based on the flow of people only?

Ayyar Yes, on the basis of the flow of people and the expectations in front of the polling centres at many places throughout Iraq and also some contacts with the presiding officers of these centres, whether in the north, the south or the centre. The person who announced these figures did not say that they were final figures. So far, we have no results for the elections. The counting is taking place right now. I heard that Al-Sharqiyah knows some things, which we do not know.

Sadiq In the city of Mosul, the deputy governor said that four towns did not receive the election process materials. How do you justify this? These towns are Bashqa, Bartillah, Al-Hamdaniyah and Jihan. They did not receive the material for the election process. Why is this?

Ayyar The deputy governor is not authorized to make a statement on behalf of the IECI, which is impartial. He does not have the right to speak in our name. I am the official spokesman and I can speak about everything related to the IECI and the elections.

Sadiq He did not speak in the name of the IECI. He only said that some areas did not receive the election process materials. What is your justification, since you represent the IECI, which is in charge of the elections?

Ayyar This did not happen. We have distributed all the supplies, forms and ballot boxes based on a tight plan to all areas. I do not know how he said this. We are certain that our work was good, although there is a possibility of human error. Anyone might make a mistake. However, this did not happen.

Sadiq The IECI exerted tremendous efforts and you deserve to be thanked for that. It was a huge effort that nobody expected and nobody denies this. However, ballot counting has started using lamps. Does this negatively affect the results or the ballot counting?

Ayyar I would like to say that among the things that were imported to provide polling stations with is these special lamps. These lamps were brought so as to have enough light, in case a power outage takes place, in order to enable those involved in the ballot counting to do their job. This is part of the things we purchased to supply the needs of polling stations in Iraq. Therefore, lamps are available and the ballot counting is currently under way. We will announce results once we have them.

Sadiq If the IECI is the only party concerned with this issue, what is the reason for the delay in announcing the results? Two weeks or 10 days are too much. Everybody is waiting eagerly for the results of the elections. Seventy per cent of ballot counting was completed a few hours after closing ballot boxes. Why then is this delay if the IECI is the only party concerned with this issue?

Ayyar Thanks for telling me that 70 per cent of ballot counting was completed despite the fact that I, the spokesman for the IECI, do not know this per cent until now! There is no delay. The official and final results will be announced after receiving the results of the out-of-country voting, which will continue for four days according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Afterward, these results will be collected together with local results here and will be announced to the public in an official ceremony. We want to finish this matter as soon as possible. There is nothing hidden (changes thought) – but we will finish the job and announce results most probably in less than 10 days, or even in seven or six days. We will finish our work and announce results in an honest and transparent manner.

Sadiq Then you will not give us a specific date for announcing the final or the initial results.

Ayyar The initial results will be announced as soon as the IECI receives them. They will be announced day by day during pre-planned news conferences. If any results become available to us by tomorrow, we will definitely announce them. After ballot counting, every polling centre will announce its results. Afterward, these results will be sent to the main centre –

(Sadiq, interrupting) We received many results from Kirkuk, Huwayjah, Mosul and Basra governorates. Results have started to appear and they are being sent to Al-Sharqiyah TV, but we do not want to announce them so as not to cause chaos or discrepancy in figures. We will wait for the IECI’s results. We thank you for the tremendous efforts you exerted and we are happy that you are a fellow journalist. Thank you very much.

Source: Al-Sharqiyah, Baghdad, in Arabic 1837 gmt 30 Jan 05. BBC Monitoring, Copyright 2005 Financial Times Information
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