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Cablegate: Iraqi Overseas Vote in the Uae

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Diana T Fritz 08/27/2006 05:00:52 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS ABU DHABI 05080

SIPDIS
CXABU:
ACTION: POL
INFO: MEPI P/M PAO RSO AMB DCM ECON

DISSEMINATION: POL
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: CDA:MRQUINN
DRAFTED: HRO:GLLAWSON
CLEARED: POL:JFMAYBURY

VZCZCADI726
PP RUEHC RUEHDE RUCNRAQ
DE RUEHAD #5080/01 3521223
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181223Z DEC 05
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2801
INFO RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 5648
RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABU DHABI 005080

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR S/I, NEA/I AND NEA/ARPI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL KDEM IZ AE
SUBJECT: IRAQI OVERSEAS VOTE IN THE UAE

1. (U) Summary: Iraqis resident in the GCC countries voted
in greater numbers in their country's parliamentary
elections hosted by the UAE December 13-15 than in Iraq's
January 2005 parliamentary elections. The increase, from
11,409 to 17,967, was due in part to a UAE decision to grant
a visa waiver to allow non-UAE resident Iraqis to stay in
the UAE for a short stay in order to both register and vote
on the same day. In January, non-UAE resident Iraqis were
required to register to vote on one day, leave the country,
and then return to the UAE several days later to vote. The
election, which took place amid tight security and under the
supervision of international observers, went smoothly and
was positively received by expatriate Iraqi voters. End
Summary.

2. (SBU) The overseas portion of the December 13-15
elections for Iraq's National Assembly was a success in the
UAE, one of 15 countries outside Iraq that hosted elections.
According to Mike Burke of the International Mission for
Iraqi Elections, which coordinated the independent election
observation, "The UAE stepped up and made it happen. They
were a giant help last time and they were a giant help this
time," Burke said of the outcome of the election procedures.
According to Burke, 17,967 Iraqi expatriates voted over the
three days in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, with a heavier count in
Dubai. "Charter flights full of Iraqis from Doha and Muscat
came here," he added. Burke said the UAE's visa waiver
decision was largely responsible for the increase in voter
turnout. Unlike the January election for Iraq's parliament,
the December election allowed voters to register and vote on
the same day. The UAEG encouraged turnout by issuing a visa
waiver so that Iraqis from other GCC states could come to
the UAE for a short stay in order to vote. Burke surmised
that the increase may also have been due to the perception
by some Iraqis that the December election was less "rigged"
than the January one.

3. (U) Preparations for the overseas Iraqi vote in the UAE
took less than three weeks. Election officials, using the
experience gleaned from the January 2005 parliamentary
election, were able to ensure that the December vote was
conducted in a professional manner. At the polling places
themselves, the voting layout was consistent with general
international standards and the local precinct elections
were basically well run. Few voters were turned away for
inadequate documentation and there were no noteworthy
incidents observed during the three days of monitoring. The
only constraint in the election process came from the
central election center when a prohibition was issued
restricting access by international observers to vote count
information. This restriction was eventually rescinded
reestablishing transparency for the election.

4. (SBU) An Emboff who monitored the election in Abu Dhabi
observed that voters proceeded with an air of confidence in
a voting environment not unlike a hospital clinic staffed by
efficient, trained personnel. Prior to casting their votes
in the ballot box, voters had to dip their index fingers in
blue ink. Later, some of them proudly waved their ink-
stained fingers, a symbol of their desire for a new
government for their future. The press carried such photos.

5. (U) "Gulf News" reported that Iraqi electoral workers at
the election center in Dubai refused to hand over some
ballot boxes Friday because they had not been paid by the
Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI). An IECI
official was called in to resolve the impasse and the boxes
were handed over safely.

6. (U) The UAE's role was significant. Besides allowing
visa waivers and furnishing election venues, the UAE
provided a thorough security environment, and
"international" observers (three Emiratis from the Chamber
of Commerce and two from the MFA). In addition to the
Emirati observers, five embassies (Czech Republic, including
the Chief of Mission for a half-day, the UK, Canada, Italy,
and the U.S.), and seven Iraqi expatriates were on hand to
monitor the proceedings. (Note: There are approximately
50,000 Iraqi expatriates in the UAE. End note.)

7. (U) At the Zayed Sports Complex in Abu Dhabi, there were
seven voting precinct "stations" set up along a long hallway
in the dressing rooms inside the stadium. At the Global
Village complex in Dubai, there were initially 18 voting
stations, which were expanded to 20 on Wednesday night and
Thursday. The vote was scheduled to run from 0800 to 2000.
Dubai extended the voting for a limited number of stations
by two hours on Wednesday and Thursday.

8. (U) In Abu Dhabi, the security arrangements required each
voter to produce identification prior to being allowed entry
into the sports complex. The police performed thorough
inspections of each vehicle entering the complex, employing
mirrors and bomb-sniffing K-9 support. Individual voters
were required to have any packages x-rayed and pass through
a magnetometer. Specified parking was set aside for all
vehicles well away from the stadium. Voters were then
required to proceed through a second security inspection and
magnetometer screening prior to entering the actual voting
area within the stadium.
QUINN

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