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Iraqis Protest Voting Irregularities

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-iraq-election-protest,0,7841823.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines Iraqis Protest Said Voting
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2005
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      http://www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/world/wire/sns-ap-iraq-election-protest,0,7841823.story?coll=sns-ap-world-headlines

      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
      elections.

      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
      reject marginalization."

      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
      posts.

      Copyright � 2005, The Associated Press
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