Monday, December 19, 2005
Rise in poll complaints troubles Iraq vote monitors
On the deadline for filing complaints, the number of alleged violations which could swing results in the 275-seat parliament was "well into double figures", an accredited international election observer, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
In January there were only five of these "red" complaints, the observer added. Red complaints are alleged breaches serious enough to potentially hand a seat to a party or election bloc unfairly.
At the Sharqia high school in central Baghdad, which was used as a polling station, a senior election official was said to have asked voters if they were going to vote for 555. Unless they said yes, they were not given ballot papers.
A source close to Mr Allawi's campaign said that in one Baghdad polling station "around 600 men, some with walkie-talkies and purple ink on their fingers showing they had already voted, forced their way in. When the manager tried to stop them asking for ballot papers, they threatened to put him in a car boot and drive him away ... He let them in."
He declined to be identified, citing the fact that an Allawi candidate and five campaign workers were murdered before the poll. All complaints have to be signed by a witness, which created risks, he said.