International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE)

International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE)

October 15, 2005 15:01 ET

International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE): Preliminary Assessment of Iraqi Referendum

AMMAN, JORDAN--(CCNMatthews - Oct. 15, 2005) - The International Mission for Iraqi Elections (IMIE) has been meeting in Amman, Jordan, to review preliminary assessments on the preparations for and conduct of the Iraqi constitutional referendum. These preliminary assessments are based on information prepared for the IMIE by international electoral experts, and on reports from the IMIE field office in Iraq, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and domestic observer groups. The IMIE will further analyze these reports and assessments, and will publish its findings on the IMIE Web site (www.imie.ca) and provide them to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq (IECI).

These preliminary assessments and observations indicate that the IECI has made significant operational improvements since the January 2005 elections.

"The IMIE is encouraged by these assessments. They have highlighted that, despite the tremendous security risks and obvious logistical difficulties which exist in Iraq, the IECI has developed and implemented a referendum process that generally conforms to internationally recognized electoral standards. These include the legal framework, planning, procedures and logistics," said Paul Dacey, Vice-Chair of the IMIE Steering Committee and Deputy Electoral Commissioner from the Australian Electoral Commission.

"The IECI is to be congratulated on its tremendous achievements, as it continues building the necessary foundations to ensure the progress of democracy in Iraq, particularly given the short time frames and extremely difficult circumstances facing Iraq in this period of transition," added Dr. Zoltan Toth, fellow IMIE Steering Committee member and Secretary-General of the Association of Central and Eastern European Election Officials.

The IMIE's early assessments identify the many positive aspects of today's referendum, including the extent and quality of the IECI's overall planning and operations, the updating of the voters register and the voter education initiatives that were established.

Farouq Al-Amad, General Coordinator, Arab Commission for Civil Society, League of Arab States, said that he "welcomed the continued involvement of the IMIE in the process in Iraq and for its ongoing assistance as Iraq heads toward the national election in December. The IMIE adds an important dimension to the processes of openness, transparency and coordination."

"The courage and personal resolve of the people of Iraq to turn out to vote in such large numbers, particularly in the face of such personal risks and threats is nothing but admirable," said Mr. Dacey.

The IMIE preliminary reports stressed that the IECI has been under significant pressure to manage three electoral events within a period of one year. In many countries with long-established democratic institutions, such a major undertaking would be a significant, perhaps insurmountable challenge. The IMIE congratulates the IECI for its ability to perform under demanding time frames, difficult security conditions and close scrutiny by the international community.

The IMIE would also like to acknowledge the professionalism of the IECI in reacting to procedural issues as they arose during the day.

The IMIE views the upcoming December 15 elections for the Iraqi National Assembly as a crucial step forward in the democratic electoral process in Iraq and looks forward to the continuation of its advisory role to the IECI.

About IMIE: The International Mission for Iraqi Elections is composed of 10 of the world's leading independent electoral commissions, plus an association comprising 18 additional electoral management bodies. The agencies are co-operating to provide thorough, independent and expert assessments of the electoral policies and procedures being developed for the three elections planned in Iraq for 2005. The IMIE provides assessments, advice and counsel to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, and to the public at large, for the purpose of assisting in the strengthening of democratic processes and building public confidence in Iraq's developing democracy. Members of the IMIE include the electoral management bodies of Albania, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, Panama, Romania, United Kingdom, Yemen, and the Association of Central and Eastern European Election Officials. The League of Arab States participates in IMIE deliberations as an observer. Elections Canada currently serves as Chair of the Mission's Steering Committee and provides secretariat support and resources through its Ottawa headquarters and IMIE liaison offices in Amman and Baghdad. The Australian Electoral Commission currently serves as Vice-Chair.

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