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Iraq exile vote runs into trouble
by BBC (reposted)
Saturday Jan 22nd, 2005 8:49 AM
Iraqis living abroad are being given more time to register in the country's election because of a low turnout.
The International Organization for Migration, which is organising voting in 14 countries, said registration would be extended for two days.

By Thursday, the fourth day of registration, fewer than one in 10 Iraqis had registered abroad, out of more than a million eligible voters.

In Iraq, new security measures have been announced for the 30 January poll.

In other developments:

* The Ansar al-Sunna group says it has executed 15 Iraqi national guards who were kidnapped last week

* Eight Chinese hostages taken hostage in Iraq have been released, the Chinese embassy in Baghdad says

* There are reports of a car bomb explosion in Hilla, south of Baghdad.

Rules relaxed

Registration for Iraqi exiles and expatriates had been due to end on Sunday, but is now being extended until Tuesday.

The IOM said registration rules were also being eased. An Iraqi passport will now be accepted as identification, instead of the two documents demanded previously.

On Friday, the head of the Jordan-based programme for registering expatriate Iraqi voters, Peter Erben, told the BBC News website there could be several factors why so few had come forward.

They included the requirement for people to attend polling stations twice, once to register and then to vote - inconvenient for those who have long distances to travel.

The absentee voting will take place as planned on 28-30 January, the IOM said.

In Iraq, the interim government has given more details about the security arrangements for the election, amid fears that insurgents will try to disrupt the poll.

New restrictions

Baghdad's airport is to be closed for two days and overnight curfews in certain cities will be expanded, the interim Interior Minister, Falah al-Naqib, said on Saturday.

The movement of pedestrians and cars close to polling stations will also be restricted, and non-official cars will be prevented from travelling between Iraq's 18 provinces.

On Friday, Iraq's interim Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, said it would be impossible to provide full security for the vote.

However, Mr Naqib said the authorities were doing their best to ensure a peaceful vote.

"All of our security forces have been put on alert to face any terrorist attacks targeting these elections," Mr Naqib told reporters, confirming that security forces would be paid special bonuses.

The Iraqi interior minister said 29, 30 and 31 January would be public holidays, during which many areas would hold curfews from 2000 to 0600 (1700 GMT - 0300 GMT).

People will be barred from carrying weapons during that period, Mr Naqib said.

Iraq had already announced plans to close its land borders for three days, except for pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

The latest announcement comes after two suicide bombings apparently targeting Shia Muslims killed at least 25 people on Friday.

At least 14 people died when a car bomb exploded as worshippers left a Shia mosque in Baghdad, while a second bomb killed at least 11 people at a Shia wedding party in the south of the capital.

IRAQ'S OVERSEAS POLLS
Syria: 500,000
Jordan: 360,000
US: 313,000
UK: 250,000
Iran: 134,137
UAE: 100,000
Sweden: 91,600
Germany: 75,000
Australia: 75,000
Netherlands: 44,000
Turkey: 40,000
Canada: 36,000
Denmark: 26,000
France: 8,000
Number of Iraqis living in 14 nations where voting is to be held
(Source: IOM)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4198071.stm
by Mike
(stepbystpefarm <a> mtdata.com) Saturday Jan 22nd, 2005 10:36 AM
The article didn't even begin to scratch the surface of the problems associated with allowing Iraqis living elsewhere whetehr or not "in exile". There was a notable omission in the list of countries with substantial populations of Iraqis abroad.

Israel

I don't know what the exact number is but would be pretty high up on that list.

And yes, news reports from Israel seem to indicate that they are being registered to vote. And don't for a moment imagine that all Iraqis oppose this. While many of the Iraqis in Israel came from the Bagdad area also many came from the North. The association between Jews and Kurds goes way back in their mutual histories.