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Top Bush officials clash over Iraq election

by : Vicki Allen
Sunday September 26, 2004 - 01:49
1 comment

By Vicki Allen

WASHINGTON - Iraq’s elections should be nationwide, a top Bush administration official has said, clashing publicly with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s suggestion that voting might not take place in the most violent areas.

Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said the elections scheduled for January will not be perfect, but they should encompass the entire country.

Rumsfeld also appeared to back away from his outspoken remarks on Thursday that while the elections will take place on time, they might not be held in places where security could not be guaranteed.

"Every Iraqi deserves the right to vote," Rumsfeld said on Friday. "We and the government of Iraq intend to see that the elections are held, intend to see that they’re held on time, and to do everything possible to see that that happens, and to see that every Iraqi has the right to vote."

"I think we’re going to have an election that is free and open, and that has to be open to all citizens," Armitage told a House of Representatives committee. "We’ve got to do our best efforts to get in troubled areas. ... I think we’re going to have these elections in all parts of the country," he said.

Rumsfeld also said Washington would not wait until Iraq "is peaceful and perfect" before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops "because it’s never been peaceful and perfect and it isn’t likely to be."

But he gave no timetable for the withdrawal, a topic administration officials have avoided as President George W. Bush has vowed to "stay the course" in the conflict that has taken centre stage in his election battle with Democratic challenger Senator John Kerry.

Another senior defense official, who asked not to be identified, said the number of U.S. troops in Iraq likely will rise slightly in December and January as fresh units are sent to relieve soldiers winding up their current year of duty.

As Bush and Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in politically charged events this week touted progress since Saddam Hussein’s ouster, U.S. lawmakers sought answers on how elections could be held amid the worsening insurgency and how long U.S. troops will remain.

NO CHANGES

Rumsfeld raised the possibility of partial elections on Thursday, just hours after Allawi and Bush, together at the White House, insisted national elections would be held on schedule in January.

"If there were to be an area where the extremists focused during the election period, and an election was not possible in that area at that time, so be it. You have the rest of the election and you go on," Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Asked about Rumsfeld’s comments, Armitage said he knew of no plans to hold partial elections that exclude violent areas.

"I know of no changes and no plans. We’re pushing ahead, fully supporting the Iraqi people, and the United Nations and the Iraqi electoral commission to have nationwide elections for a 275 person national assembly before the end of January," he told reporters after a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing.

Republican Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat, was sceptical that could happen. She said most of the basics such as voting equipment, voter lists, and the process for getting names on ballots were not in place.

Armitage said election preparations were progressing, and said "we’re beginning to get some traction" with other countries to send troops to help protect U.N. personnel working on the election. (Reuters)

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> Top Bush officials clash over Iraq election
Sunday September 26 - 02:57 - Posted by 1122a42601ceb4e3...

This administration is not concerned with true fair elections...just the opposite. They can’t even have an accurate election in this country. It took one precinct in Florida 9 hours from the close of the polls to turn over the ballot boxes for counting.... you can do a lot of sorting and shuffeling in 9 hours... they were never questioned or investigated because the whole thing was rigged by Jeb anyway. So if we can’t have a "real" election in this country and no one cares, then how in the world could we have one in a war torn battle zone where there is no desire to have other than the CIA in control?

This year the UN is sending observers here to moniter the elections like they have to in 3rd world countries. How embarrassing.







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