Iraqis Protest Said Voting Irregularities
By Associated Press
February 6, 2005, 11:23 AM EST
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Hundreds of Iraqis shouted slogans
and waved Iraqi flags Sunday outside Baghdad's heavily
guarded Green Zone to protest alleged irregularities
they say prevented tens of thousands of people in
Mosul from voting in last weekend's landmark
The demonstrators were mainly Iraqi Christians,
Turkomen and Yazidis -- members of a small religion in
the north -- who say polling centers never opened in
their neighborhoods in the turbulent northern city and
surrounding Ninevah province.
Electoral commission officials in Baghdad have
acknowledged that many polling sites never opened Jan.
30 or opened late because of what they said were
security concerns. Some sites that opened could not be
supplied with ballots and other election materials,
officials have said.
A team of independent lawyers is investigating those
and other complaints in the city and will report back
to the electoral commission.
"We are protesting because we have been deprived of
our right to participate in the elections," said
Shameil Benjamin, a member of a Christian party called
the Democratic Assyrian Movement. "There were
irregularities and we felt that the injustice was
inflicted on us."
A spokesman for Chaldean and Assyrian parties, William
Warda, said the irregularities prevented 200,000
people from voting.
The demonstrators gathered outside the Green Zone,
which houses the offices of the interim Iraqi
government as well as the U.S. and British embassies.
The Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq also is
based inside the compound.
Banners held aloft read, "Assyrians, Turkomens,
Yazidis have the right to enjoy the essence of
freedom," and "We demand our democratic rights and we
Mosul has become a flashpoint for insurgents battling
U.S. and Iraqi security forces in recent weeks. In
November, rebels launched an uprising there that
forced nearly the entire police force to desert their
Copyright � 2005, The Associated Press