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POLITICS-IRAQ:


Vote Figures for Crucial Ninveh Province Don't Add Up
Analysis by Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (IPS) - The early vote totals from Nineveh province, which suggested an overwhelming majority in favour of Iraq's draft constitution that assured its passage by national referendum, now appear to have been highly misleading.

The final official figures for the province, obtained by IPS from a U.S. official in Mosul, actually have the constitution being rejected by a fairly wide margin, but less than the two-thirds majority required to defeat it outright.

Both the initial figures and the new vote totals raise serious questions about the credibility of the reported results in Nineveh. A leading Sunni political figure has already charged that the Nineveh vote totals have been altered.

According to the widely cited preliminary figures announced by the spokesman for the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI) in Nineveh, 326,000 people voted for the constitution and 90,000 against. Those figures were said to be based on results from more than 90 percent of the 300 polling stations in the province.

Relying on those "unofficial" figures, the media reported that the constitution appeared to have been passed -- on the assumption that the Sunnis had failed to muster the necessary two-thirds "no" vote in Nineveh. No further results have been released by the IECI since then, and the final tally from the national referendum is not expected until Friday at the earliest.

However, according to the U.S. military liaison with the IECI in Nineveh, Maj. Jeffrey Houston, the final totals for the province were 424,491 "no" votes and 353,348 "yes" votes. This means that the earlier figures actually represented only 54 percent of the official vote total -- not 90 percent, as the media had been led to believe. And the votes which had not been revealed earlier went against the constitution by a ratio more than 12 to 1.

These ballots could only have come from the Sunni sections of Mosul, a city of 1.7 million people. Although the votes from polling centres in those densely populated urban areas would take longer to count than those from more sparsely populated towns and cities outside Mosul, they should not have taken much longer than those for the Kurdish sections of Mosul.

Thus there seems to be no logistical reason for failing to announce the results for the 340,000 votes that went overwhelmingly against the constitution. Rather, the evidence suggests that it was a deliberate effort to mislead the media by Kurdish and Shiite political leaders who were intent on ensuring that the constitution would pass.

They knew that all eyes would be on Nineveh as the province where the referendum would be decided. By issuing figures that appeared to show that the vote in Nineveh was a runaway victory for the constitution, they not only shaped the main story line in the media that the constitution had already passed, but effectively discouraged any further media curiosity about the vote in that province.

The final figures revealed by the U.S. military liaison with the IECI suggest a voter turnout in Nineveh that strains credibility. On a day when Sunni turnout reached 88 percent in Salahuddin province and 90 percent in Fallujah, a total of only 778,000 votes -- about 60 percent of the eligible voters -- in Nineveh appears anomalous. Even if the turnout in the province had only been 70 percent, the total would have been 930,000.

The final vote totals suggest that the Sunnis, who clearly voted with near unanimity against the constitution, are a minority in the province. It is generally acknowledged that Sunnis constitute a hefty majority of the population of Nineveh, although Kurdish leaders have never conceded that fact.

A total of 350,000 votes for the constitution in the province is questionable based on the area's ethnic-religious composition. The final vote breakdown for the January election reveals that the Kurds and Shiites in Nineveh had mustered a combined total of only 130,000 votes for Kurdish and Shiite candidates, despite high rates of turnout for both groups.

To have amassed 350,000 votes for the constitution, they would have had to obtain overwhelming support from the non-Kurdish, non-Arab minorities in the province.

According to official census data, before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Assyrian Christians and Sunni Arabs accounted 46 percent of the more than 350,000 people on the Nineveh plain. Most of the others are Shabaks and Yezidis. Kurds represented just 6 percent of the population.

But the Kurds have asserted political control over the towns and villages of the plains, with a heavy Kurdish paramilitary and Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) presence. That Kurdish presence provoked widespread opposition and some public protests among non-Kurdish communities on the plains, especially Christians and Shabaks.

Assyrian Christians are particularly afraid the constitution's article 135, which divides the Christian community into Chaldeans and Assyrians, will be used by Kurds to expropriate their lands and villages in North Iraq.

Michael Youash, director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project in Washington, has spoken with Assyrian Christian leaders in two district towns, Bakhdeda and BarTilla, on the Nineveh plain where Christians represent roughly half the combined total population of more than 100,000 people.

He says Assyrian Christian political organisations mounted big demonstrations against the constitution in both towns, and that their local leaders are sure that very high percentages in both towns voted against the constitution.

In response to an e-mail query, Maj. Houston, the U.S. military liaison with the IECI, said, "It was my understanding that the Christian communities would be opposed to the constitution," but he dismissed the suspicions of vote fraud in the province.

Saleh al-Mutlek, one of the Sunni negotiators on the constitution last summer and now a leading opponent of the constitution, told reporters, "There is a scheme to alter the results" of the vote. He alleged that members of the Iraqi National Guard had seized ballot boxes from a polling station in Mosul and transferred them to a governorate office controlled by Kurds.

A former U.S. military liaison with the Nineveh province IECI has confirmed a similar incident of seizure of ballot boxes from a polling station during the January elections.

According to Maj. Anthony Cruz, Kurdish militiamen tried to bribe local electoral commission staff to accept ballots that had obviously been tampered with. Cruz also confirmed a much larger ballot-stuffing scheme by Kurdish officials in the province, as reported by IPS in September.

On Monday, the Electoral Commission announced that it would conduct an audit to examine the high "yes" vote, but it is not clear that it will include the results in Nineveh.

*Gareth Porter is an historian and national security policy analyst. His latest book, "Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam", was published in June. (END/2005)

 

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Who are the Christians of Iraq?

October  

Vote Figures for Crucial Ninveh Province Don't Add Up 10, 19, 05

Iraq Constitution: Bad news for Christians  10, 19. 05

Assyrian students unite 10, 19, 05

Iraq bishops ready to seek help from Pope  10, 19, 05

Charter vote resonates with Valley Iraqis Likely passage gives many hope 10. 18. 05  

Dividing the Chaldeans from the Assyrians by the Iraqi Constitution  10, 18, 05

A monument in France dedicated to the Remembrance of Assyro-Chaldean massacres by the Ottoman Turks. 10, 17, 05

Swing state' of Nineveh may be moving in favour of constitution 10, 15, 05 

Iraq votes for the Constitution and for its future 10, 14, 05

Forgotten victims - Iraqi Christians who speak the language of Jesus  10, 14, 05

Mgr Sako: people in Kirkuk have not read the constitution but will vote  10,13, 05

Terrorism strikes all Iraqis, says Patriarch 10, 13, 05

Assyriska a national football team without a country  10, 12, 05

Referendum: 'Yes' in Kurdistan and Southern cities and 'No' in Kirkuk, al Anbar and Diala 10, 12, 05

Chaos depriving Towns from Voting - The Minorities Fear the Domination of Islamic Parties10, 12, 05 

Bas-reliefs of winged goddesses discovered in western Iran 10, 12, 05

Immigration of Iraqi Chaldeans Abroad Passes through Jordan 10, 12, 05

Baghdadis tell their stories  10, 12, 05

Assyrialogist Henry Saggs Dies at 84 10, 10, 05

Letter by Ms. Jacqueline Zomaya The Assyrian representative to the Iraqi National Assembly 10, 10, 05

The Kurds are "cleansing" their domain ­ and provoking a civil war in Iraq  10, 09, 05

Nestorian label "imposed unjustly upon the Assyrians"  10, 08, 05

Iran's Assyrian MP-Felicitation to the Supreme Leader  10, 8, 05

Syriac Manuscripts from the Vatican Library: Volume 1 10, 08, 05

Sunnis Threaten Referendum Boycott if Rules Not Changed  10, 05, 05

Helping the Iraqi refugees in Jordan  10, 04, 05

Final Draft of Iraqi Constitution  10, 03, 05

Two More Assyrian Children Orphaned  10, 02, 05

Discoveries of the Assyrian antiquities in Syria 10, 01, 05 

Sectarian Strife tears apart Baghdad's Neighborhoods 10, 01, 05

September

POLITICS-IRAQ: Kurd's Voting Shenanigans Cloud Key Province 9, 28, 05 

Church in Iraq Helps Rebuild New Orleans Parish; U.S. Relief Agency Bridges Partnership 9, 28, 05

The Armenian Genocide And The Assyrian Factor 9, 28, 05

Interview with the Writer and the Historian Rosie Malek-Younan 9, 28, 05

Assyrian Cultural Festival in Ceres CA. 9, 27, 05

Swedish Radio's Decision to End Turkish Language Broadcasts 9, 27, 05

Assyrian Refugees Face Harsh Discrimination in Greece 9, 26, 05

A cry of help by the Assyrians 9, 26, 05

samples of songs by various Eastern and Western Assyiran singers. 9, 24, 05

USAID: Iraq Reconstruction and Humanitarian Relief  9, 24, 05

4 Assyrians Killed in Assassination Attempt on Former Iraq Assyrian Minister  9, 23, 05 

Seminar in Stokholm About Seyfo ( world war one massacres)  9, 22, 05

Iraq chaos threatens ancient faith 9, 22, 05 

The Crimson Field Previews 9, 17, 05  

Treatment of Horses" by the Assyrian scientist of the 13th century Faraj  9, 21, 05 

A New Satellite T.V. Program From San Jose 9, 20, 05

English translation of the ancient Mesopotamian tablets  9, 20, 05

First Nestorian [Church of the East] search engine goes online 9, 19, 05

Download Assyrian songs.by ReeMon 9, 18, 05 

Letter from the 'Save the Assyrian Campaign'. 9, 16, 05 

Growing Opposition to Dividing the Assyrians 9, 16, 05

Books by Assyrian writers 9, 15, 05

English cardinal warns of Iraqi constitution  9, 14, 05

Brutality Against Christians in Iraq Continues 9, 13, 05

John Kanno for Congress  9, 12, 05

Reply to Culomnist Ken Rudin   9, 12, 05

Assyrians: Wine-producing season starts in Midyat 9, 11, 05

Iraqi Christians cautious about new constitution 9, 11, 05

Assyrian Human Rights Documentation Project Launched in Canada 9, 6, 05

Fire Consumes Over 500 Assyrian Shops in Baghdad Suburb 9, 6, 05 

Education in Armenia for Assyrians and other Minorities 9, 6, 05

Capital of Musasir gov't in northwest Iran Discovered  9, 5, 05

The Assyrian Democratic Organization Rejects Iraq's Constitution 9, 4, 05

The Ordeal of the Christians in Arab countries 9, 3, 05

August

"Arab Christians"? Not in My View  8, 31, 05

Emotional Funeral for Assyrian Murdered By Kurds in Iraq 8, 31, 05 

Risking it all for a song 8, 31, 05

Iraq's draft constitution and the ChaldoAssyrians 8, 30, 05

Kurdish Reprisal Attacks Against Assyrian Christians in Iraq  8, 27, 05

For Basra's Christians, Hussein era the good old days 8, 28, 05

Assyrian Restuarant in Chicago Reminds Iraqis of Home 8, 28. 05

Assyrians in Northern Iraq terrorized by the Kurdish Mlitia 8, 27, 05

Iraq's Proposed constitution could lead to fragmented state. 8, 27, 05

Conflicts between Kurds and the Shabak 8, 26, 05

New Iraq constitution may throw women's rights into Stone Age  8, 26, 05

Assyrians of Telesqof demonstrate against being divided in the Constitution 8, 25. 05

Assyrian Demonstrators Voice their Concern about the New Iraqi Constitution 8, 24, 05

A letter from the Rep.of Shabak in the National Assermbly  8, 24, 05

New Iraq constitution must protect Christians 8, 22, 05 

The text of the latest Proposed Iraq Constitution  8, 22, 05

Outside View: Who lost Iraq?  8, 22, 05

Iraq's Religious Minorities Concerned About Islamic Constitution 8, 22, 05  

Iraq TV's 'Cops' breaks new ground  8, 21, 05  

Young Catholics Gather in Baghdad  8, 20 05

Iraqis Squeezed Out By Kurdish Expansion, Muslim-Centric Constitution 8, 20, 05

A Memoradum from the Christians of Iraq to the Drafters of the Constitution. 8, 20, 05

Shafting Nineveh: The Fate of Iraqi Christians 8, 20, 05

Plea for Assyrian Christians and Iraqi minorities 8, 18, 05

Undemocratic aspects of the new Iraqi constitution draft 8, 17, 05

Iraqis vent rage on call-in TV after bombs kill 43 8, 17, 05

Iraq's Non-Muslims' Constitution Fears  8, 17, 05

Kurdish Gunmen Open Fire on Demonstrators in North Iraq 8, 16, 05

Their suffering continues 8, 14, 05

IRAQ: Focus on constitutional concerns 8, 14, 05

Photos form homeland  8, 14, 05

Despite Turmoil, Christians Place Faith in New Iraq 8, 13, 05 

Iraqi-American Translators: The Untold Story 8, 12, 05

Life in Ankawa 8, 12, 05

Why Torah's Hebrew script was Changed to the square Assyrian script 8, 11, 05

Assyrian Restaurant in Chicago  8, 10, 05

Speech at the Commonwealth Club of California By Fred Aprim 8, 10, 05

KURDS TAKE A HARD-LINE STANCE ON IRAQI CONSTITUTION  8, 10, 05

72nd Assyrian American National Convention   8, 09, 05

Unresolved Iraqi Constitutional Points  8, 09, 05

Information wanted for Upcoming Documentary about Iraqi women 8, 09, 05

Assyrian Objection to the Nationality Law 8, 06, 05

Iraqi Christians Remember Church Bombings One Year Later 8, 05 05

Looted history  8, 05, 05 

Book Release: Rosie Malek-Yonan's "The Crimson Field" 8, 05, 05 

Iraq Must Avoid a Rollback of Rights 8, 04, 05 

Nina Shea: Rule of law, rule of Islam  8, 4, 05

Iraqis in U.S. Won't Vote on Constitution 8, 03, 05

Bush's Global War on Christians 8, 01, 05

An Open Letter to Patriarch Mar Ignatius Zakka I  8, 01, 05 

Democracy could struggle in Islamic Iraq  7, 30, 05

Assyrian Granny Shimmes's Contribution to Rendezvous of Civilizations 7, 29, 05

House amends funding bill to help Iraqi Christians 7, 29, 05

Iraq draft constitution fails to protect religious, human rights, USCIRF says  7, 29, 05

 

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