US embassy cable - 05BAGHDAD4271

IRAQI ELECTION COMMISSION DELAYS ANNOUNCEMENT OF

Identifier: 05BAGHDAD4271
Wikileaks: View 05BAGHDAD4271 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 2005-10-17 18:44:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PNAT PGOV PTER KDEM IZ Elections Parliament
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 004271 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/17/2015 
TAGS: PNAT, PGOV, PTER, KDEM, IZ, Elections, Parliament 
SUBJECT: IRAQI ELECTION COMMISSION DELAYS  ANNOUNCEMENT OF 
 
REFERENDUM RESULT 
 
REF: BAGHDAD 4268 
 
Classified By: DCM David Satterfield for reasons 1.4 
(B) and (D). 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY.  UN Special Representative (SRSG) Qazi 
told P5 Chiefs of Mission late October 17 that the 
announcement of the constitution referendum results 
would be delayed while the Iraqi election commission 
investigates potential irregularities.  Preliminary 
information from IECI field offices revealed that 12 
governorates showed a 90 percent or more vote for one 
side or the other in the referendum.  In the end there 
may be no abuses involved, Qazi cautioned.  However, 
the election commission is suspicious of such high 
percentage results and is launching an investigation 
that may take at least two or three days before 
preliminary results can be determined.  We made the 
point that a delay of a couple days will not be 
particularly problematic, but if it lasts longer it 
could cause problems for the tight election calendar. 
The IECI in that case should be prepared to give 
preliminary results while conditioning the public that 
these results might change.  We also stressed that the 
investigation must be conducted in a manner that 
preserves the credibility and transparency of the 
IECI.  The departure of UN/EAD Perelli before the 
final referendum results are announced could be 
problematic since the vote count could be contentious 
and the Iraqi election commission may well need UN 
technical expertise and support more than ever up to 
the time the results are announced.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (C) In a short minute meeting called by UNAMI on 
October 17, UN SRSG Ashraf Qazi briefed the Ambassador 
and other P5 Chiefs of Mission on fast-developing 
details regarding potential widespread fraud in the 
October 15 referendum.  Qazi stated that UN/EAD and 
current International Commissioner to the Independent 
Election Commission of Iraq (IECI), Carina Perelli, 
revealed that returns indicate a 90 percent vote in 
favor of one side or the other in 12 of the 18 
governorates.  These lop-sided returns have raised 
suspicions among the IECI Board. 
 
3. (C) Qazi explained that the IECI in Baghdad 
received this information from their respective 
Governorate Electoral Offices (GEO) after each GEO 
submitted their field counts of all the Form 98 total 
they received from the field (Note: Each polling 
station uses the Form 98 to capture the results of the 
hand count prior to sealing the ballots in the 
respective ballot box. End note.)  Due to the 
extraordinarily high vote totals in favor of one side 
or the other in the majority of the governorates, 
Perelli and the IECI commissioners agreed to 
immediately conduct an investigation to evaluate the 
accuracy of the GEO reporting and to determine if 
there is any evidence of fraud. 
 
4. (C) The IECI will first conduct a review of all 
copies of the Form 98 in each impacted governorate, 
followed by an inventory of sample ballot boxes 
currently held in secure storage under GEO control. 
This will require the IECI to ship the sample boxes to 
the Baghdad IECI headquarters.  After this sample 
survey, the Board of Commissioners will make an 
initial assessment about the extent of possible fraud. 
If the IECI determines there is no serious fraud, then 
it will go forward in announcing preliminary results. 
UN Election Team lawyer Jose Maria Aranaz noted that 
there were 170,000 observers during the referendum 
process and so far no serious charges of abuses. 
 
5. (C) The IECI intends to issue a press release about 
the delay of results.  The Ambassador, along with UK 
Ambassador Patey, urged Qazi to recommend to the 
election commission that it issue preliminary results 
of the referendum as soon as practicable.  Qazi 
resisted, but post will press that the Iraqi public be 
kept apprised of any developments in a fully 
transparent manner.  Qazi does not expect preliminary 
results for a couple of days as the investigation has 
been slowed due to a sandstorm that temporarily halted 
the air shipment of the Form 98 copies to the IECI 
Baghdad Tally Center. 
 
6. (C) COMMENT:  Qazi himself admitted that there may 
be no fraud at all; it may be no more than a "storm in 
a teacup," he observed.   We understand from another 
source close to the election commission that nearly 
all of the 12 governorates in question recorded 
enormous "yes" vote counts.  As we have reported, 
there is already considerable media speculation in 
Iraq about the results (see ref).  Thus, election 
commission acknowledgement of potential fraud will 
only raise public interest further.  The IECI handled 
only with difficulty the allegations of fraud in the 
January 2005 elections.  It will likely be similarly 
challenged this time.  Therefore, the departure of UN 
election advisory team leader Perelli before the 
announcement of the final results would be 
problematic. 
Khalilzad 

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