Canada is taking the lead on setting up the Elections process for the January 30 elections. There are obviously a ton of challenges to overcome… but only some can be directly controlled by the elections officials.
The CBC is reporting today on comments made by the head of Elections Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley after the conclusion of a meeting he’s had with officials from other countries participating. He’s leading the international efforts to get the Elections process going in Iraq and help the Iraqi people run their elections fairly.
Unfortunately, but predictably, it seems the security situation in Iraq is dealing two very hard blows to the possibilities for this team:
- The actual number of international observers and consultants has been “reduced significantly”.
- The majority of the observers, including Kingsley and his team, will be based *outside* Iraq, likely in Amman. So the logistics of ensuring a fair election are obviously much tougher when done remotely.
No matter what your stance on the War itself or the US occupation, all must agree that the work done by the “International Mission for Iraqi Elections” is crucial to the legitimacy of the elections process, and the resulting Iraqi government.
We can only hope that they are allowed to do their work transparently and completely. I don’t expect they will get much interference because anyone perceived to be ‘meddling’ would be very very negatively by pretty much anyone.
Personally, I’m not too optimistic on the Elections. We happen to have a very apt comparisons in the Ukrainian and Afghan elections… in Ukraine we have 500 observers (from Canada, plus many others) on the ground to ensure all goes well… I haven’t found numbers on the observers in Afghanistan, but I know they were there and in fairly large number…. in Iraq, there will be very very few… dozens… if that, of independant observers on the ground. We will be relying almost completely on Iraqis.
While I do not doubt the will of the majority of Iraqis to participate fully and fairly, I am concerned that there are very powerful elements in all the major political, religious and government institutions that would think nothing of tampering… just a little… with the results.
And if that happens… even if it’s just a little… then we could have major problems.
If the election is not widely hailed as free and fair, then the consequences could be many.. I won’t bother to list them because I think most people reading this know exactly what they are.
I wish I could believe that it is up to the Iraqi people, or even this Elections Team to ensure the elections are fair… but it’s not… it’s up to the select few who are now in power and who want power.
This election will give us the answer to the burning question:
Is Iraq ready for democracy?