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Iraq Elections to Offer One Candidate - 2002-09-08


Eight million Iraqis will be casting their votes for president next month. Saddam Hussein has signed a decree announcing the date of a referendum to endorse his presidency, following his nomination last month by the Iraqi parliament.

The outcome is a foregone conclusion. On October 15, Iraqi voters will have no choice but to support President Saddam Hussein. He is the only candidate on the ballot.

The same was true on October 15, 1995, when a referendum to endorse Mr. Saddam was the first such vote in Iraq since it became a republic, following the 1958 revolution which toppled the monarchy.

Government figures showed Mr. Saddam won 99.96 percent of the more than eight million votes cast. Voter turnout was near 100 percent.

"President Bush need not worry about studying Saddam Hussein's campaign style," said Abdel Moneim Sa'id, head of the al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. ""he results of the vote in 1995 only suggest there was a coronation of a corrupt dictator."

"No country in the world gives any president the power of 99.96 percent," Mr. Sa'id said. "It is a fraud. The whole thing is a fraud. It means that there is no serious opinion happening over there. There is no different people who can criticize and evaluate him, and there is no procedure or process that even gets him that result."

This year there is a slight chance Mr. Saddam could win endorsement for another seven year term without such overwhelming voter support. Following the 1995 referendum, amendments were added to the Iraqi constitution providing for secret balloting.

However, Mr. Sa'id said Iraqi voters will likely go to the polls believing that true secrecy does not exist in Iraq. And, Mr. Sa'id said, "the Iraqi people know their system does not give them the power to change anything."

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