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A Round Table Discussion & Washington -Baghdad two-way on Iraq Election

  • Iqbal Choudhury

In a round table live discussion on Iraq election from our studio in Washington as speakers discussed on various aspects of Iraq election today. They focussed on the history and the structure of Iraq election. Dr Ahtesham Chowdhury , who is working on iraq's reconstruction project and is associated with iraq's election , talks on the the success of the election and the future of democracy in that area.

Sunday's election for a transitional national assembly will not be the first time Iraq has held elections, but it will be the first time a ballot is being held freely and with transparency. Under Saddam Hussein, referendums were held in which he was the only candidate. His regime said he won 100 percent of the vote in a referendum held in October, 2002 intended to keep him in power for seven more years. In 1995, he won a similar referendum garnering 99.96 percent of the vote. Iraq has also held legislative elections in the past, beginning in the 1950s. From 1979 to 2003, under Saddam, Iraqis voted for a 250-seat National Assembly that elected members to four-year terms. The elections were always heavily-slanted toward putting members of Saddam's Ba'ath party in office.

Millions of Iraqis are eligible to vote for the transitional national assembly, but it is unclear how many will cast ballots. There are 14 million eligible voters inside Iraq. In some parts of the country, registration will be allowed on the day of the vote. Voters must present a valid government-issued food ration card to register. More than one million expatriate Iraqis were also eligible, but only 280,000 registered by Tuesday's deadline. Authorities plan to mark peoples' fingers with ink to prevent them from voting more than once at the 5,200 polling centers across the country. Voters will select representation from a single, national ballot instead of by region. Under the system, they will choose a list, or slate of candidates. Then each list will be given a number of seats proportional to the votes it received. Within each slate, candidates will be given seats according to how they are listed. Under Iraq's election law, every third candidate on each slate is a woman to ensure they are represented in the transitional national assembly.

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