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Cablegate: Iraqi Parliament Passes Election Law

DE RUEHGB #2979/01 3141307
O 101307Z NOV 09



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1. (U) This message provides a correction to Reftel in para.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: On November 8, Iraq's Council of
Representatives finally passed an election law that will
enable Iraq to hold elections on January 21, 2010 -- five
days later than originally planned but well within the
requirements of the Constitution. In a significant milestone
for Iraqi democracy, the election law calls for an open list
election in multiple districts, a measure expected to enhance
transparency of electoral politics and accountability of
elected officials. Five percent of the overall seats will be
allocated to compensatory or "at large" seats -- and eight of
these nationwide seats will be designated for minority
parties. The law includes specific provisions for voting for
displaced persons, refugees, military, prisons, and
hospitals. The provision on voting rules for Kirkuk was
finally agreed after weeks of difficult, and sometimes
harrowing, negotiations (septel). Technical experts continue
to review the elements of the law, but UNAMI election experts
give an initial indication that the law can be successfully
implemented on time for elections to be held January 21. END

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Extended Deliberations

3. (SBU) The law passed November 8 is an amendment of the
2005 election law (law number 16). Except where specific
provisions were changed, the January 2010 election will be
conducted under the terms of that law. In a dynamic,
somewhat chaotic, session, 195 MPs proceeded through a series
of "options" votes to define the terms of the law. The
session was shown live on local television, with the public
able to watch which parliamentarians voted for the new

Size of Parliament, Compensatory Seats and Minorities
--------------------------------------------- --------

4. (SBU) The COR first took up the issue of how to determine
the number of seats for the next COR, deciding on one seat
per 100,000 inhabitants, per Article 49 of the Constitution,
with the number of inhabitants based on the latest Ministry
of Trade statistics. (Comment: We estimate this will make a
COR of 323 members, though Iraqi policymakers will have to
confirm this. End Comment.). Parliamentarians voted that
five percent of the seats should be compensatory seats, and
that of those seats, eight should be given to minority
components as follows: five for the Christian component, one
each in Baghdad, Ninewa, Kirkuk, Dahuk and Erbil
governorates; one for the Yezidi component in Ninewa
governorate; one for the Sabean Mandean component in Baghdad
governorate; and one for the Shabak component in Ninewa

Multiple Districts, Open List

5. (SBU) Parliamentarians then voted for the election to be
conducted in multiple districts, according to the boundaries
of the 18 provinces, with each district allotted seats
proportional to the governorate population as per the latest
statistics used for the Public Distribution System (food
ration cards). Parliamentarians also determined that
nomination of candidates shall be based on the open list
system. The open list system as defined in the law requires
that the party list may not be fewer than three candidates
nor more than double the number of seats allocated to the
electoral district. The voter may vote for only a party list
or for a party list and a specific candidate. Individual
Qor for a party list and a specific candidate. Individual
candidacy is permitted. MPs also voted that vacant seats
should be given to the winning lists based on the proportion
of the votes they acquired.

Special Needs Voting

6. (SBU) For military or personnel of the Ministry of
Defense, the Ministry of the Interior and other security
institutions, voting shall be conducted through special
procedures set by the Independent High Electoral Commission
(IHEC) and based on official lists provided by the relevant
ministries no less than 60 days before election day. For
inmates, detainees and prisoners, the Ministries of Justice

BAGHDAD 00002979 002 OF 003

and Interior will provide lists of qualified voters no less
than 30 days prior to election day. Patients and hospitals
and other health institutions will be permitted to vote with
special needs voters according to procedures to be set by

Voting for Displaced Persons and Refugees

7. (SBU) The COR voted to include a definition of an
internally displaced person (IDP) that matches the definition
used in the 2008 Provincial Election Law: "A displaced voter
is an Iraqi who has been forcibly displaced from his/her
permanent place of residence to another place inside Iraq
after 9 April 2003 for whatever reason." Voting for
displaced persons shall be conducted in accordance with the
latest official statistics provided to the IHEC by the
Ministry of Displacement and Migration (MODM) and the
Ministry of Trade (Note: MOT administers the PDS food ration
card system. End Note.) Displaced persons will have the
right to vote in their place of original residence unless
they have already transferred their PDS food ration card to
the governorate where they currently live. As for
out-of-country voting -- which includes voting for refugees
-- parliamentarians voted that IHEC shall have the authority
to formulate instructions for all out of country voting.

Candidate Qualifications

8. (SBU) Parliamentarians also agreed on rules for who may
run as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Candidates
must be Iraqi citizens, legally competent and at least thirty
years old. Candidates must hold, at minimum, a secondary
school certificate or equivalent. Candidates must not have
been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude; may not
be a member of the Armed Forces or security agencies at the
time of candidacy; and shall not be covered by the provisions
and procedures of the deBa'athification law. Candidates
should be able to prove, by a judicial order, that they have
not illegally accumulated wealth at the expense of the nation
and public funds. Candidates may request the IHEC
Governorate Electoral Office to provide him with the number
of votes he received. Members of the COR are entitled to
access all information related to the electoral process and
vote counting systems in the electoral districts.

Provisions for Kirkuk

9. (SBU) Parliamentarians then voted to accept the following
special provisions for voting in Kirkuk. The elections in
Kirkuk and provinces and other governorates with disputed
voter registries shall be conducted according to the 2009
voter registry. Provinces with disputed voter registries are
those where the rate of population growth has exceeded 5
percent annually. A request to contest voter registries in a
specific governorate must be presented by at least 50
representatives and approved by a simple majority in the COR.
The COR shall form a committee for Kirkuk province, and each
province with a disputed voter registry, that shall consist
of representatives of that province, as well as
representatives from the Ministries of Planning, Interior,
Trade and the IHEC, with assistance from the United Nations.
The committee(s) will review and verify errors and increases
in voter registries in accordance with official data and
criteria contained in the final provisions of this law to
correct the voter registry. The committee(s) will complete
its work within a year of the date of its formation.
Finally, the election results of Kirkuk province, or any
province whose registries are questioned, before the
Qprovince whose registries are questioned, before the
verification process is complete, shall not be considered as
a basis for any electoral process in the future or a
precedent for any political or administrative status.

10. (SBU) MPs also agreed that the following standards shall
be adopted as a basis for carrying out the special provisions
for Kirkuk province. The difference between the number of
registered voters in the 2004 registry before it is updated
and the number of voters registered in the 2010 elections
shall be determined. The verification process for additions
in the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 shall be
conducted by focusing on the following: (1) Populations
increases (births, deaths, transfer of registration from the
province) from 2004 to 2009, (2) Returning displaced
individuals according to official records, and (3) Any
demographic changes during this period. A scrutiny process
shall be conducted to determine the validity and legality of
records as well as any illegal cases. The difference shall be
calculated and reflected in the number of seats. The number

BAGHDAD 00002979 003 OF 003

of the Kirkuk members of the COR -- or a governorate with a
disputed voter registry -- shall be determined through
population ratios to be adopted by the Council after
subtracting seats resulting from violations. The correct
numbers of the province's seats shall be allocated and any
numbers of registered voters over the province's numbers
shall be added to the national share.

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