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WikiLeaks: 2009-08-23: 09BAGHDAD2277: Allegations of Fraud in KRG Elections Possible Preview for January Elections

by WikiLeaks. 09BAGHDAD2277: August 23, 2009.

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 09:09 AM UT


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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
09BAGHDAD2277 2009-08-23 14:23 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Baghdad
DE RUEHGB #2277/01 2351423
O 231423Z AUG 09
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002277 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/18/2019 
Classified By: Political Counselor Yuri Kim for Reasons 1.4 (b), (d). 
This is a combined Embassy Baghdad Political Section/Erbil 
Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) cable. 
1.  (SBU) Summary:  Despite the Independent Higher Electoral 
Commission's (IHEC's) recent certification of the results in 
the July 25 Kurdish Regional Elections, there remains 
lingering resentment among the Kurdish opposition and 
Christian parties that fraud, manipulation, and intimidation 
played a significant role in the outcome.  Embassy and RRT 
contacts complain bitterly that although the dominant 
Kurdistani List (composed of the Kurdish Democratic Party 
(KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)) had in fact 
won the most votes, it did not win as many as had been 
garnered through underhanded tactics.  Still, the surprising 
success of the Change List (and to a lesser degree the 
Service and Reform List), in tandem with the good 
organization (and credible review process) achieved by IHEC, 
seems to have limited the blowback from these allegations, as 
most Kurds and Iraqis seem now to have accepted the electoral 
results as valid.  End Summary. 
Peaceful and Apparently Orderly Election 
2.  (C) Overall, both USG and international election observer 
teams commented that the July 25 elections in the Kurdistan 
Regional Government (KRG) were reasonably well-run and that 
efforts were made in all polling centers to conduct elections 
in accordance with international standards (reftel).  But 
despite international observers' general satisfaction with 
the election day voting process, Kurdish opposition leaders, 
as well as minority parties, especially Christian, 
immediately began alleging widespread fraud and intimidation 
by the Kurdistani List (the joint KDP/PUK ticket). 
Bullying and Manipulation Before the Election 
3.  (SBU) The Goran, or "Change" List, reported that it had 
to vacate rented office space after its landlord received 
threats that there would be negative consequences for him if 
he continued to rent the office to an opposition party. 
There were also numerous allegations that government and 
private sector employees were threatened with losing their 
jobs if they actively supported an opposition party.  Change 
List and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) officials complained 
that the system for selecting polling station managers, key 
figures in the voting process, was rigged to favor Kurdistani 
List supporters.  In Dohuk Province, for example, only ten of 
the 1,161 polling station managers were KIU supporters. 
Fraud at the Polling Stations 
4.  (SBU) The major opposition parties were unified in 
telling RRT staff that Kurdistani List polling station 
managers significantly affected the results of the election 
by requiring party and NGO observers to remain seated at a 
far end of the polling station, making it difficult for them 
to verify the processes used to identify individual voters 
and verify their registration status.  Polling station 
managers were authorized to assist illiterate voters in 
marking their ballots, leading several opposition leaders to 
allege that managers often marked ballots for the Kurdistani 
List instead of the list chosen by the illiterate voter. 
Polling station managers also had the final say on the 
acceptance or non-acceptance of the IHEC form that permits 
individuals to vote who are not on the official registration 
list.  According to the Erbil General Election Office 
Qlist.  According to the Erbil General Election Office 
Director Handren Salih, 105,000 Form 111s were issued in his 
province alone (Note:  Form 111 is a document issued by IHEC 
attesting that a voter is registered within a certain 
district even if their name does not appear on the voter 
rolls.  End note.).  The opposition contends that polling 
station managers accepted numerous fraudulent Form 111s, 
allowing individuals to vote multiple times. 
Many Christians Frustrated with KRG Elections 
5.  (C) The leaders of two Christian political parties have 
accused the KDP of rigging the Christian vote in favor the 
Christian party aligned to it.  The Christian parties which 
performed poorly, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM, also 
known as the Rafidein List) and the Chaldean Consolidated 
List, allege that the KDP officials intimidated Christians 
into voting for the KDP-allied Chaldean Syriac Assyrian 
People's Council, also known as the Ishtar List as well as 
BAGHDAD 00002277  002 OF 002 
instructing Muslim KDP members to vote for the Ishtar List to 
increase its vote totals and in turn help the KDP as it seeks 
to solidify its dominant position within the Kurdish 
Parliament.  The poor electoral performance of the Rafidein 
and Chaldean Lists is already forcing these parties to 
reassess their strategy for the January 2010 national 
elections and their support for the minority quota seats in 
those elections. 
6.  (SBU) MPs Yonadam Kanna and Ablahad Sawa, who represent 
the ADM and the Chaldean List respectively in the Iraqi 
Council of Representatives, expressed anger at the results 
and claimed that the KDP had rigged the elections in favor of 
the Ishtar List candidates who Kana characterized as "(KDP 
President Massoud) Barzani's puppets."  Both leaders 
specifically claimed KDP officials had threatened Christians 
living in the town of Zakho in Dohuk province stating that if 
the villagers did not vote for the Ishtar List, the KRG would 
cut off financial assistance to the town.  Kanna asserted 
Christian voter turnout in the KRG elections is generally low 
and that in the 2005 KRG elections only 7,000 Christians had 
gone to the polls.  He argued that the fact that over 18,000 
votes had been cast for Christian parties was proof that 
Kurdish Muslims had crossed over to tip the outcome of the 
Christian vote. 
7.  (SBU) Comment:  While all parties acknowledge that the 
Kurdistani List in fact won the largest number of legitimate 
votes, they claim that the distribution of seats in the 
Kurdistani Parliament would have been different if the 
election had been completely fair.  The surprising success of 
the two Kurdish opposition parties has tempered the emotion 
behind some of these allegations and limited the resulting 
bitterness.  End comment. 


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