Who Holds the Joker?

As the Iraqi parliamentary election draws nearer the debate about it gets hotter, there are many factors at play, among them the elections reform law, the status of Karkuk, alignments of political parties and the centralism/federalism divide. None of these factors cuts across the others and affects the results so drastically as much as election fraud, it is the card that trumps all and whoever holds it IMHO and is capable of excercising it with impunity wins the other debates hands down. The fraud card is like the joker in a deck of playing cards, whoever holds it will have more odds than the other players at winning control of the situation in Iraq. Fraud will happen, it always did in recent elections in Iraq and in neighboring countries, here isa glimps of fraud practices in the recent presidential elections in Afghanistan.

Dr. Ramadan Bashardost was a presidential candidate in the last Afghani elections, he is known for his position against government corruption and election fraud, he lives in a tent and gives away most of his $2000 monthly salary as a member of parliament to help the poor. His vote count came third after Karzai and Abdullah, he complained to the elections committee, the US embassy and thecourts about their fraudulent practices but not much seemed to happen, instead the results were largely upheld and the US member of the UN elections watch committee, Ambasador Peter Galbraith who was more critical of fraud than others, was sent home. Bashardost was even accused by supporters of the leading candidate of fraud himself and found fake ballots to prove it, which shows to what extent fraud can be used in order to cover the tract of the guilty.

Self-regulation of elections in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed; there is always a joker in their deck of cards. It is time to call for UN supervision in order to burn the joker before the dealing is done.

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