COALITION PROVISIONAL AUTHORITY BRIEFING
RE: ELECTION PREPARATIONS IN IRAQ
BRIEFER: CARINA PERELLI,
U.N. ELECTORAL ASSISTANCE DIVISION
LOCATION: BAGHDAD, IRAQ
DATE: FRIDAY, JUNE 4, 2004
MS. PERELLI: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. In my double capacity as
both the head of the electoral mission in Iraq and the director of programs of
electoral assistance of the U.N. around the world, it is my pleasure to inform
you that the agreement on the electoral modalities have been reached; that we
have an electoral framework and that we have an electoral commission. This was a
result of long consultations with Iraqis both inside and outside of the
Governing Council, both in Baghdad and in many cities around the country.
If you recall, the first U.N. report on the possibility of having elections in
Iraq established that reaching these agreements was absolutely essential and a
precondition to being able to hold elections no later than the 31st of January,
In the name of the secretary-general, of the U.N. focal point for electoral
assistance and the secretary-general, Kieran Prendergast, and of all my
colleagues in the U.N., I want to congratulate the Iraqi people for having moved
the process of transition and self- determination one step further in the right
direction in the road towards a democratic, sovereign and free and peaceful
It is thanks to the determination of the people, their participation and their
political will, that we have reached this point. It will be thanks to their
political will and their determination that we will be able to go further.
From now on, this is probably the last time you see my face making an
announcement on Iraqi matters regarding Iraqi elections because the independent
electoral commission of Iraq will be making these announcements to the Iraqi
people, as is their right. The U.N. will assume the role of providing technical
assistance to this commission, as we have started already to do it on Monday
because the commission was formed on Sunday, the 30th of May, and has already
started to work.
Let me recall how this commission was formed because it is important to remember
how this process came about, particularly since the events of -- probably the
sexier events of having a government and establishing -- discussing names did
not focus the attention of the media on what was happening on the electoral
As you recall, in our previous visit, we had reached agreement on two things:
first of all, that an independent electoral commission had to be formed that
would be different from the previous structures existing in Iraq and that
therefore would not have any sort of -- any baggage from the past. We also
agreed that this commission was going to be integrated by a board of
commissioners, with seven voting members, one non-voting member that was going
to be the chief electoral officer in charge of the electoral administration and
the executive branch of the commission, and a U.N. electoral commissioner.
At the time, we also reached agreement on another thing, which was basically
that the names of the commissioners needed to be reached by a broad process of
participation of the population, because it was -- if this commission was going
to be nonpartisan and independent, autonomous, impartial, of the people and for
the people, it should come from the people.
Therefore, the U.N. agreed with the IGC and the CPA at the time on a process in
which basically the participation of the population would be requested by the
U.N., in order to appoint -- to nominate persons of good standing in their
communities, people that the communities could trust, and basically the U.N.
would conduct a process of evaluation and vetting, resulting in a short list
that would be then presented to the IGC for a final ranking of the candidates.
The process was launched. We opened not only a dedicated e-mail address but also
we established (safe ?) boxes where the population could deposit the application
forms and the nomination forms for the candidates, in all the corners of Iraq.
The U.N. also had a team permanently auditing the process, so that we would be
certain that no interference, no undue interference would be carried out.
This process resulted in 1,878 applications that were then sent to a team of
U.N. evaluators, U.N. staff with experience in electoral matters and with
experience in the region, that did the first vetting of the candidates.
Later on a panel of eminent personalities was put in place. And before coming to
Baghdad to interview the final candidates of the short list, they basically
stopped in the place where the evaluation was being conducted and basically
audited the process the U.N. was conducting in order to be satisfied of their
fairness and of the correct application of standard criteria for the selection
of these candidates.
The panel of interviewers, as you recall, was chaired by Judge Kriegler of South
Korea, integrated also by Dong NGuyen of Vietnam and Jaquine (Techien ?) of
Mexico, three people with enormous electoral experience.
They came to Baghdad. They interviewed a short list of candidates. Twenty-four
candidates were interviewed, because one couldn't continue make it at --
couldn't continue with the process, for family reasons, at the very last moment,
and basically provided us with a short list.
I was not present during the interviews, neither was any of the members of my
team, the team that was negotiating at the time the modalities for the
agreement, because basically Judge Kriegler understood that we were too involved
in a political process and we could be perceived or we could be tempted to exert
undue influence in their deliberations, and he only wanted to rank candidates on
the basis of merit and not on the basis of any other consideration.
If you recall also, the forms that the candidates had to fill did not have any
sort of questions regarding ethnicity or religious affiliation of the people
participating in the process. That information was not available either to
ourselves or to the panel.
When the process of interviews was finished, Judge Kriegler provided us with a
short list that I presented immediately to the plenary of the IGC for their
ranking of the different candidates. The candidates, by the way, had been ranked
on the basis of merit.
In the short list we had already -- the only thing that we could establish from
the short list in terms of ascriptive criteria was that two women had made the
short list, one of them the highest-ranked candidate in terms of merit in the
eyes of the panel of interviewers, and both women were in the first tier of
When we presented the list to the plenary of the Governing Council, what
happened was that the council determined that because the U.N. had been doing 90
percent of the work, they asked us officially to complete the process and to do
100 percent of the work.
Because these were very respectable candidates, all of them, with no prior
political activity with -- known political activity -- some of them very, very
well known in the activities such as human rights promotion or women's
organizations. So they requested officially that the U.N. complete the selection
process exclusively on the basis of merit and that we do the ranking of the
candidates and provide the final list, which we did.
I accepted in the name of the organization on the 30th of May, and on the
afternoon of the 30th of May I met with the (final of interviews ?) again in
order to precisely now ask more detailed questions about skills, talents,
personalities and what would be the best mix in terms of as a group for the
commissioners to work together.
I suppose actually you are a lot -- all of you interested in knowing the names
of the candidates by now. The list I'm pleased to announce -- and that I can
certify as complying with highest standards of transparency, participation, and
I can certify also that it was not produced by any sort of undue political
pressure from any side, neither the IGC nor the CPA. It is an extremely
well-balanced list, by the way, and widely reflects the diversity and richness
of the culture of Iraq.
So I'm going to announce the electoral commissioners and the chief electoral
officer on the Iraqi side, and then I will announce the U.N. commissioner on our
Before giving you the names, let's record that all of them will integrate the
board of commissioners; the first seven names will be voting members in the
commission. The chief electoral officer, as head of an executive branch, will
have voice but not vote, as will the U.N. counterpart.
Electoral commissioners: Adel Hussein Yakub Assandawi (ph), Fareed Ayar Mihai
Iyar (ph), Hamdia Abus al-Hussani (ph), Ibrahim Ali Ali (ph), Izadeen Muhammad
Shafik (ph), Mustafa Sufwat Rachid (ph), Suwad Muhammad al-Jaboti (ph).
Chief electoral officer: Adel Muhammad Alami (ph).
Q (Off mike.)
MS. PERELLI: Alami (ph).
I have to apologize for the murdering of -- we will pass the list around after.
On the side of the U.N., the commissioner will be Carlos Valenzuela, a face some
of you know already from previous exchanges. Carlos Valenzuela has been -- is a
U.N. staff member, but also he has been the chief electoral officer and
participated in various positions in 16 electoral operations of the U.N.
Probably the best-known role that he has had is to have been the chief electoral
officer in East Timor. And until today, he was having a relatively similar
function as senior adviser to -- the U.N. senior adviser to the Palestinian
In the same plenary session, the IGC also voted on the electoral system and
electoral modalities for these elections, which means basically that we not only
have an institution and electoral authorities that will conduct the process and
who will have exclusive authority over this process, but we also have rules of
the game, which means basically agreement on the electoral system, the unit of
representation, the contenders to these elections, an interpretation about the
entitlement to vote, which as you recall from previous reports from the U.N.
were the elements that were required in order to proceed to the second phase,
which is the phase of implementation.
It was determined that the best system for these elections to the National
Assembly of Iraq, and only for these elections, would be the system of
proportional representation, using the whole country as a single national
district. This system will allow voters to cast their vote wherever they are,
for lists to be certified by the independent electoral commission of Iraq. These
lists can be presented by political parties, political associations, independent
candidates, and ad hoc groupings of concerned citizens. They don't have to
present complete lists. For associations and groupings and political parties,
the minimum number of names to be presented in a list is 12; the maximum, of
course, being 275, which is the number of seats available in the National
Any group of people or any candidate wanting to run for these elections will
have to collect 500 signatures of citizens -- that is people entitled to vote
for these elections -- supporting their candidacies, and simply present it to
the independent electoral commission for their certification.
The signatures do not have to be spread nationally, by the way, but -- because
for this election it will be accepted that even signatures and parties or
political entities operating in a small district will be able to run for the
elections. So there's no requisite for a national party. Governorate level,
district level groupings will be accepted for these elections.
The natural threshold -- and by natural threshold -- I hate to provide with --
this type of briefing with technical terms, but basically in elections, you
(cause ?) a natural threshold, what would be the cost in terms of votes that you
have to have in order to win a seat in the assembly.
We have not established any legal threshold for these elections, so the natural
threshold is obtained by dividing the number of votes by the number of seats.
With the projected number of votes that we were working with right now --
because the final one will be known only when the citizens have cast their votes
-- you will need between 26(,000) and 27,000 votes in order to win a seat for
the national assembly.
In order to comply with the quota for women, lists, by the way, will need to
have a female candidate every three names. And before somebody tells me that the
quota is 25 percent and that basically one every three would give 33 percent,
the reason why we are asking one woman every three candidates is because the
system is so inclusive that it is to be expected that many lists will only have
the first name of the list as a winner and because our independent candidates --
independent candidates will not have lists. So it is a compensatory measure in
order to ensure that 25 percent of the seats are for women.
The principles that guided the design of the system were two. The first one was
that the system had to be extremely inclusive. That is something that we have
been hearing all over Iraq, not only this visit, but through our time in Iraq.
And this is my fourth visit to Iraq.
What does it mean by inclusive? That basically we needed to make sure that
anybody who needed to participate and who wanted to participate would have a
chance to do so; that even the smaller interests would -- should and would be
represented. And that is particularly important because what we are going to be
electing is not only a National Assembly that will be a legislative body, but
it's going to be a constituent assembly. And therefore, establishing this sort
of social and political contract of the people of Iraq, it is extremely
important that even the small groups feel that they can have their voices heard
in that assembly.
The other issue that was extremely important is that because of the policies of
the previous regime, there are a lot of communities that have been broken and
dispersed around Iraq. And these communities wanted to be able to accumulate
their votes and to vote with like-minded people. And therefore, these
communities of interest, by using a national district, will be able to
accumulate votes. They will be able to enter into deals, they will be able to
basically aggregate interests, which at the end of the day is what this assembly
is all about; it is about relaunching a dialogue among Iraqis in order to
establish new rules for living together.
The U.N. is extremely satisfied with the process. It was achieved through
dialogue, through discussions, through also a good deal of reality checks,
because we also needed to make sure that whatever system is made available for
this election could be feasible in the time frame at our disposal. Remember that
the eight months started counting as of Monday in order to reach the elections
by the 31st of January.
We will be present providing support and assistance to the commission, but from
now on -- and I understand that the commissioners are planning to have their own
press conference pretty soon, but they have asked for some time to arrange their
own personal lives, them being private citizens and having to basically commit
for a period of two years to this job, as soon as they are ready, a press
conference will be convened and they will be able to give you a lot more details
about themselves and their work.
Thank you very much.
Q Hello. I'm Beatrice Klaufman (sp), DPA, German News Agency. Mr. Lakhdar
Brahimi once suggested that anyone who has a position in the interim government
cannot run in the elections. What provisions do we have now in the electoral
And my second question, will there be an official beginning for the election
MS. PERELLI: Yes, let me start with the second one. Yes, there's going to be an
official beginning for the electoral campaign. Of course that will be determined
by the independent electoral commission that will announce it themselves once
they have determined this. It will not be up to the U.N. to determine that
Regarding whether or not the members of the interim government will be running,
there is no provision either way. But one of the things that the modalities
gives the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq is a possibility of
regulation of principles for the elections, because while we don't have what is
technically called a full-fledged electoral law, but what we have is a draft
order on the modalities of the election that will be regulated later on by the
independent electoral commission.
And that's why it's so important to understand that this independent electoral
commission is not only going to be independent, it will be financially
autonomous, it will have the possibility of adjudication of disputes, it will
have some capacity of regulation, and it will have the task of implementing the
election. So basically, that part was never negotiated; it will have to be
determined once more than the (broad outlines ?) are available.
Q (Through interpreter.) Adnan Mantarusan (ph), Al Hurriyah, Freedom TV. There
were some criteria for candidates. Would you clarify the criteria for
competitors in these elections? Thank you.
MS. PERELLI: Yes. There were 17 pages of criteria in the form that they had to
fill to start with.
So, basically what we were looking for was not necessarily prior electoral
experience, because that would have been extremely unfair, a sort of crazy
criteria to put together in a country like Iraq that has had a very -- I mean,
let's put this way; the U.N. would not consider that the elections under Saddam
Hussein were up to any sort of international standard. But because these people
needed, first of all, to be well respected, of good reputation; they needed to
have integrity; they needed to have prior experience in issues such as
participating in boards and committees, having had civic participation, not
necessarily through the state, because otherwise we would have been excluding
people in the opposition who could not be in the state.
So we were looking for experience in the management of budgets, in the
management of human resources, capacity to work with legislative frameworks,
capacity to organize in institutions, capacity to work in boards. There was a
whole list of criteria, but also the trust of the people and basically the
integrity of these persons was paramount.
We were also looking for character because you have to understand that the
people who will integrate the board of commissioners will be subject to enormous
pressures from all sides, as do any electoral commission in the world when
you're organizing an election. So you need to have the character that allows you
to withstand pressure, to be reasonable, not to be arbitrary in your decisions,
but also to survive the experience. As when we were discussing in the IGC, at a
certain point one of the members of the IGC said, "I'm afraid that private
citizens will not be able to face some of the politicians." And I said, "Look,
from what Judge Kriegler is telling me, there is a couple of ladies to start
with in that commission that will be able to face the devil, if need be, and
win." And that is one of the things that we were looking for.
Q Just two quick questions, Ms. Perelli. The first one is, I just understand --
I just want to make sure I understand how this will work. If I'm an Iraqi voter,
I will go into the ballot box and I won't be voting for an individual -- right?
-- I'll be voting most likely for a party or a slate of candidates, who most
likely will be selected by the parties themselves. So, for example, if I vote
for SCIRI, SCIRI then wins 40 percent of the votes, that's -- whatever -- 180
candidates or something, so --are winners in the National Assembly, they're
going to choose the candidates -- correct? -- and they're going to pick the
winners, you're not going to be voting for individual candidates? That's my
My second question is just, you obviously selected this proportional system, as
opposed to a system of, say, district elections. My question is, did you not
choose the district system in part because it was just too impractical to try to
actually draw district lines in Iraq without a census or anything like that?
MS. PERELLI: Thank you for your questions because they're very important. I'm
afraid that my heavily accented English probably did not allow me to express
Independent candidates can run for this election, not only groupings or parties.
A voter that goes to the voting booth basically will have at his disposal,
lists, slates or lists who will be of different types. You can have traditional
-- what we call traditional political parties; you can have lists of people who
have decided to come together because they were a political grouping in defense
of human rights or of the peasant rights, and have decided to present a list.
They will be able to vote for, I don't know, a women's list, if you want. They
will be able to vote for a list that might have a single name for the
Q Can I -- but you're not going to be able to -- if, say, the women's party has
10 candidates, you're not going to be able as a voter to pick, you know,
candidate one, three and seven? Right? You just pick --
MS. PERELLI: Yeah. It's a closed list. Yes, you will not be able to open the
Q (Off mike.)
MS. PERELLI: Yeah. That's the first question. So it's an open -- technically
speaking, you will be able to vote for closed lists of any sort of ad hoc
formation. That's why we're not talking about registration of political parties
or entities, but we're talking about certification of the lists. You do not have
to register as a political party in order to compete in these elections.
The lists might be complete or incomplete. A complete list is one that has 275
names. An incomplete list is one that has -- if it is for a group, up to 12
names; if it is -- 12 names or more, I'm sorry -- if it is for an individual,
just the name of the individual. Of course, it depends on your capacity to
accumulate votes at the end of the day. What you will not have is the ability to
open the list and choose and pick and choose from the candidates on the list.
The other thing that we are not going to have, which is something that -- I
mean, I'm referring to because it was used in the 1992 elections in Kurdistan --
you will not have the possibility of having lists with no ranking. The
candidates will have to be ranked, and therefore, it will not be up to the
parties or to the groupings afterwards of saying from this pool of candidates
that were voted we will be able to determine who goes to the parliament. That
possibility is explicitly excluded in the modalities that we have reached.
Your second question?
Q District as opposed to --
MS. PERELLI: Oh, yeah.
The problem -- we had two problems with districting. First of all, we all know
that there is -- there has been incredible amount of administrative
gerrymandering in the time of Saddam Hussein. So in order to have districts that
work, first of all, you would need to have had -- at the small level, you would
have needed to have had time to boundary the limitation again, which requires a
census. But it also requires not only a census, but it requires basically the
active participation of the communities, because we're not just counting bodies.
When you do districting, you have to make sure that you don't break in two and
three or in four communities of interest and people who identify themselves as a
group or a neighborhood. That's the first problem that we have. Normally that
process -- in well-established countries, the process of boundary delimitation
takes up to two years, and a lot of litigation in the middle.
The smallest unit of representation that you could have had without having to go
through the district would have been the governorate level, which also would
have been possible to do, except that if you went for governorate -- districts
at the governorate level, if you used bloc vote in places like Baghdad, for
instance, you would had up to -- to choose up to 87 names.
And on top of that, the other difficulty that you would have had is that because
not all governorates are -- have the same type of population, the seat
allocation becomes rather complicated. And in the governorates that have few
seats allocated to them, your natural threshold would have jumped to up to 25
percent. And therefore it would have been a rather unequal system for the
sparsely populated governorates.
Q What sort of security precautions will be implemented? And who will ultimately
be responsible for security?
MS. PERELLI: The security precautions we have started -- I suppose you are
referring to the whole electoral process, not to this phase. For the security
precautions, obviously the first precaution we have to take is basically for the
safety of the commissions that have just been selected and appointed. But aside
from that that, we are right now in dialogue with a whole series of actors, not
only from the coalition, which will become afterwards the multinational force,
but also the Iraqi authorities will have to also participate in these
discussions and in the coordination groups for the security arrangement for
Security for an election normally -- not only in Iraq, everywhere in the world
-- refers to at least four types of items, the first one being these security of
the electoral staff, particularly if they might get targeted -- staff and
premises who are in charge of organizing the elections.
The second one is the security of -- obviously of the electorate, the voters and
the environment for the development of an election.
Third one is to prevent the intimidation of the candidates that are going to be
running for the election.
And the fourth one is going to be to prevent the attacks against any other
person that is supporting the election, including international personnel. All
these things are going -- are being discussed right now.
Q (Through interpreter.) Hab Ab-Yusef (sp), Shaq al-Ausaf (sp) news agency.
Concerning the announcement today of the committee, is your mission ended with
all the United Nations? And what is the relationship between you and the
committee? Or will Carlos Valenzuela will be your representative and your work
will be done?
The other question is those who oversee the elections in governates, who is
going to choose them? Thank you.
MS. PERELLI: My family would love to hear that my work is finished.
Unfortunately -- or fortunately, it is not so, because you know that the
secretary-general has a special interest in Iraq. However, I'm going to resume
my more normal duties of overseeing the development of the U.N. electoral
assistance in Iraq from my normal position as director of the Division of
Electoral Assistance in New York. And I will be coming, as I do with major
operations -- periodically coming, sometimes on my own, sometimes at the request
of the commission or of Carlos Valenzuela when he needs help in order to
continue to provide assistance to Iraq.
Carlos Valenzuela will be a mix of commissioner and chief electoral officer in
the sense that he will be in charge, he will be the boss of all the U.N.
international staff that will be providing electoral assistance to the
commission in Iraq. He will support the commissioners, obviously, and he will
report both to the (SIDC ?) when there is an (SIDC ?) in Iraq, but also to New
York directly to my office, as we do with any other operation.
The U.N. will not be organizing and conducting these elections, as I said. The
people who will be conducting and organizing these elections are the Iraqi staff
of the commission, led by the commission and headed by the chief electoral
officer, who is also an Iraqi.
Regarding your question about the staff of the commission, and particularly the
provincial directors of the elections, the commission will appoint them, but
they will appoint them following a process -- probably streamlined -- a process
of nomination and selection similar to the one followed to appoint the
commission itself; which is we will require again of the Iraqi people to present
nominations of candidates, of good candidates. Because if there is not a
relationship of trust between the electoral commission and the citizens, this
election will not work. And therefore, we will want to have maximum
participation of the population in establishing the pool of candidates necessary
for selecting the provincial directors.
Many of the extremely, extremely high-level people who applied to be
commissioners and directors of elections, their names will be retained in a --
(leading ?) database, which we will be using also for selecting not only the
provincial directors of elections but also some of the other very senior
positions that this commission has.
In terms of the recruitment of the professional support staff of the institution
that will organize the elections, it will be open to a process of open
recruitment because it is important that -- this is a country where you have
extremely talented people, and it is extremely important that for an institution
that is in charge of the transparency of a process like the elections, that the
processes of recruitment be also very transparent.
Q (Through interpreter.) Saad Abrahim (ph) from Zaman (ph) newspaper. Two
questions. What is the budget, and where does it come from, for the electoral
operations, and what is the source of that budget? And second thing, are you
confident that the electoral operation in January will be successful after the
demands for surveys and censuses? And will it also express the Iraqi people's
MS. PERELLI: First of all regarding the budget. There is already a budget, a
line in the national budget of Iraq, for the elections. And right now, as one of
the last tasks that the U.N. will be doing here, we are discussing precisely
with the Ministry of Finance in order to establish the procedures for this money
to be disbursed on time for the election. And it will be under the control of,
obviously, the independent electoral commission and, obviously, the oversight of
the Ministry of Finance, probably with some help from us in order to make sure
that the transfer of skills necessary for managing large budgets for elections
is done very quickly.
There is also -- at the time when the first projections were done, the idea was
to have a budget for the election that would around $260 million, which is what
is right now in that budgetary line. We will need to start doing more detailed
planning in order to make sure that the money is enough, how it's going to be
managed, et cetera, et cetera.
On the other hand, as you know, there is an enormous interest among the member
states of the United Nations for supporting these elections. And several
extremely important member states have -- coalition and non-coalition, and I
would stress the non-coalition member states, by the way, because they have
expressed an extremely high interest in this -- have approached us to say that
they would be ready to earmark money, if need be, so that if any further
assistance is required, that would be made available.
We don't want to have one of those budgets where basically you overspend because
it's a bad administrative practice. But I don't think that the problem of budget
and money is going to be an issue for these elections. What is going to be an
issue is to make sure that we have the proper procedures set up so that when the
money is required for disbursements, because of the constricted time frame that
we have, the money is available to the commission; and that, of course, it is
managed in an extremely transparent way. And one of the first things that we are
doing is discussing auditing, the periodic auditing of how this money is going
to be managed.
Q (Through interpreter.) The next elections in January, will they be successful,
especially that there were demands about censuses and population?
MS. PERELLI: Sorry about asking you to repeat the question --
Q (In Arabic.)
MS. PERELLI: From a technical point of view, the time is sufficient to have
credible and genuine elections. And I use those terms because those are the
terms of the charter, precisely the terms that we use when we have to certify
The census issue that has been coming and going around this election -- as I
have explained in many other places before, you do not need to have a census in
order to have a registry; in fact, it's a very bad idea to have a voter registry
from the census. You will need a census, for instance, for issues such as
redistricting. And you know that the census will be launched. You know that it's
one of the things that is being discussed right now, but not for the purposes of
establishing a voters list.
A voters list is established through a process of either full registration,
electoral registration, or from deriving it from secondary sources, from
existing databases, and basically going through what we call a process of social
validation of the list, which is giving maximum publicity to the list and
allowing the population to basically validate whether the names are there --
whether the people who are there are really their neighbors, et cetera, et
cetera. That is what is required for an election, not a census.
On that issue precisely, we are preparing the technical studies to be presented
to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq with the pros and cons and the
risks in taking one option or the other. And basically they are going to be the
ones making the final decision with our technical assistance, and basically on
the basis of studies that have already been launched.
You will note that I talked about -- I made the caveat of credible and genuine
elections from a technical point of view. Of course, the big question mark --
there are two big question marks in this process. One is going to be security,
the security environment. And for me, the biggest question mark is more than the
security environment -- something that will impact on the security environment,
which is basically whether or not we are able to make these elections credible
for the people. Without the people you don't have elections. With the people,
even under harsh security conditions, you have elections.
So if the commission establishes a bond of trust between the citizens and
themselves, then very likely we will have genuine and credible elections,
because we can guarantee that we will be working with the commission, helping
them in technical processes.
Q Hi. Just with regard to exactly what you were talking about -- Borzou (sp)
from CBC -- could you describe what role, if any, the U.N.'s own ration card
system here will play in coming up with those -- the voter rolls and -- that's
it. Thank you.
MS. PERELLI: Precisely. When I was referring to the two modalities that can be
used in order to come up with a voters roll, one is obviously full registration
of the population, which has some benefits but also the main problem being if
you launch a process of full registration, you will have a serious problem,
probably, with the security right now, and therefore you can delay the process
by attacking the registration process.
The other issue -- the other possibility is to extract your preliminary list
from databases that exist. And right now what we have done is basically taken
the ration card system, the public distribution system; we have been auditing
it, checking -- even physically checking whether names in the list correspond to
actual people alive and in the country. We are comparing databases and
information, cross-checking with the different databases, in order to see what
is the degree of trust that we can have in that system and how much you can
manipulate the data without the system really collapsing.
If -- we are receiving right now the preliminary results of those audits, which
seem to be very good. So it seems to be potentially an extremely good source for
establishing the voters roll.
And -- but for us, the second part of the process is the most important, which
is what we call the face of social validation, which is called also normally
exhibition and challenges, where basically you make the voters roll available to
the population for them to come and check, and also to challenge whether the
people who are there have the right to be there. And that's why establishing
among the modalities the entitlement to vote and basically determining our
Article 11 of the TAL was going to be read by the commission was so important.
Once you do that, you create your final voters roll, which is the one you take
for the election.
So it is a strong possibility. It will not be my decision to make. Both
processes would take approximately five months.
Q Just a quick follow-up. Could you give a rating of the accuracy? The guy who
designed the database said it was over 95 percent accurate. Are you finding that
to be true?
MS. PERELLI: Unfortunately, not having the papers in front of me, I would prefer
neither to confirm nor disconfirm (sic) because I would be lying probably; with
my bad memory right now I could be saying whatever.
Q Hi. Luke Baker from Reuters. Can you estimate how many voting booths you'd
need country-wide in a country this size, and therefore, how much security would
have to be sort of arranged?
And would it be possible for the IEC to call in independent electoral monitors,
maybe from the U.N?
And a third thing, has any thought been given at this stage to how you would
mark people who voted? I mean, would you use ink, which could potentially be
sort of some mark of death for some people.
MS. PERELLI: First of all, in terms of the plan for the deployment of voting
stations or polling stations, although, again, it's a decision that the
commission will have to make, I would estimate that you would have maximum
30,000 polling stations in the country. It depends how close or -- there's a
full set of variables that intervene in determining how many polling stations
you establish. Of course, ideally, the best polling station is the one that is
the closest to the voter so that nothing interferes between the voter and the
actualization of his right to vote. So normally, we are looking for proximity to
the voters and to their communities.
We are looking also to the security environment and how it's going to affect the
whole process, whether you are going to put mega- centers of polling stations or
not. So there's a whole set of issues and criteria that would intervene in this
process. However, for a country with this type of electorate, I would say that
between 20,000 and 30,000 polling stations will be a fair estimate of the whole
Q Independent electoral commission -- sorry -- independent monitors was the
MS. PERELLI: In terms of the monitors for the process, there are three things
that have to be said. We are going to be urging the commission, and I think it
is their intention to call for international observation, but also for national
observation, national monitoring. And international observers can normally have
-- deploy small groups of long-term observers at the beginning of the process
and then come for polling day themselves.
National monitoring, as you know, is the actualization of a right -- of a civil
right of the population, which is to recommend also the changes necessary. And
we are going to probably be urging the commission not only to invite national
monitors but also to be urging the international community to be deploying
resources in order to basically strengthen the groups of national observers that
might want to observe.
In terms of whether the U.N. will observe these elections, we won't. And we
won't for a very simple reason. It is the practice and the doctrine of the
United Nations in electoral matters that whenever we are providing technical
assistance, we do not observe, because it was be tantamount to observing
ourselves and saying what a great job we have done. So basically it would be
less than credible, a less than credible statement, and that's why we will not
be present in the process of observation, because we will be providing technical
Q Sorry. And the ink thing, about marking voters -- is that something that's
been considered at all?
MS. PERELLI: Sorry?
Q Marking people who have voted, how you tell if someone's voted.
MS. PERELLI: Normally what you do, particularly when there are concerns about
whether or not -- concerns, real or not -- but I mean, any time a concern is
raised about the possibility of faking documentation and double-voting, et
cetera, et cetera, you use the procedure of indelible ink. We need to discuss
this with the commission, for a very simple reason. In some countries, for
instance, like Peru during the times of Shining Path, Shining Path had basically
threatened to cut the finger of whoever had indelible ink in it because they
wanted to curtail the participation of the voters. So that is one of the
decisions that the commission will have to be making, regarding it against the
security environment. I hope that we don't reach that point where -- (audio
break from source) -- government, but the ultimate decision will be theirs.
Q (Off mike) -- NPR. Do you have a checklist of what needs to be accomplished by
what date before -- (off mike) -- successfully carried out in January?
MS. PERELLI: Yes, we have a checklist of tasks to be accomplished and basically
broadly in what sequence.
Q (Off mike.)
MS. PERELLI: That's the most we can give you, not by what dates, because as you
can imagine, providing dates for completion of processes is the best way of
making sure that somebody can sabotage those dates. But yes, there are standard
lists of what needs to be accomplished for an election of this type to be
successful. And we can do it.
Q Peter Hahn (sp), Los Angeles Times. Can you clarify for me -- it's a little
confusing for me -- the way the ballot mechanism actually works? Does one voter
just vote for one list or one slate, or, because the slates are different sizes,
do they vote for multiple ones totaling 275, or how does --
MS. PERELLI: No, no, no, no.
MS. PERELLI: The voter votes for one slate.
MS. PERELLI; So, basically, the voter might decide that he's only interested in
voting for one candidate and that that candidate has presented a slate of one
and basically that's it. The intention of the voter then is "I don't care
whether that slate gets a lot more votes." Obviously, a slate of one, if it is
extremely popular, might lose a lot of the votes because after the independent
candidate, you have nothing else, so basically, the allocation of votes will
have to go to the general pool.
Then you can go --
Q I thought you said they had to have a minimum of 12.
MS. PERELLI: For the groups, not for independent candidates. You can declare
yourself an independent candidate. If you decide to run as a group, basically
you will have either complete or incomplete slates. An incomplete slate will
have at least 12. Why? Because we are trying to cover the possibility of having
more votes than expected, and therefore -- we don't want -- we want to minimize
the risk of wasting votes, of losing votes that go to that slate. Up to 275
because that's the number of seats. But you vote only for one list. You as a
voter make the decision of how you want your vote to go.
Q So when a list with, say, only one candidate exceeds 27,000 votes, is over the
threshold, then -- I'm not sure how this works. So --
MS. PERELLI: Yeah. It will go -- because you're going to have a system of
proportional representation that calculates largest remainders.
MS. PERELLI: Those votes will go to the largest remainders, and in fact, your
vote will go to some other candidate.
Q I see.
MS. PERELLI: But that's a free decision of the voter -- of some other's lists --
sorry -- not candidate. I mean, they go for the largest remainder, which is --
in proportional representation, you go for a succession of divisions until you
have a total of zero wasted votes. Okay? And that's how you are allocated
percentages. When the votes for your candidate have achieved -- you have
achieved for the candidate the number of votes necessary in order to be able to
run in the election, then the rest of the votes will go to the general pool of
Q Last question?
MS. PERELLI: Last question.
Q Ms. Perelli, Ilana Ozernoy from U.S. News & World Report. You had mentioned
that the Governing Council was happy to hand over the reins to let the U.N. lead
the process, but they had set up their own elections committee. And my question
is, were they at all involved in the process, or, rather, have they done any of
the leg work or any preparatory work?
MS. PERELLI: The electoral committee of the Governing Council worked extremely
hard. It was chaired by Hamid Musa, integrated by 14 members. They met regularly
with me and with my team. I had one of my staff members who was fully dedicated
to working with the electoral committee in order not only to discuss the
technical issue with them, but also to convey views that we were hearing
everywhere in our negotiations so that those views should be taken into account.
The electoral committee decided to convey -- we presented to the electoral
committee the list of the 14 final names for the position of commissioner and
the four names for the position of director general of elections that our panel
of interviewers had achieved. It was only at the level of the plenary of the
Governing Council that the Governing Council understood that is the selection
had been based until now on merit, and that because these people were citizens,
instead of them making the decision, the U.N. was much better placed in order to
complete their job and determine who were the best candidates.
And we did such a good job that later on, when we were building the profiles of
the candidates -- and that, I think is a lesson for the elections and people who
want to carve this country into small communities -- we discovered that the
commission has Arabs, it has Turkomen, it has Kurds and it has Assyrians, and it
has among the religious affiliations we have Sunni and Shi'a and, of course
Christian. But that was not predictable from the interviews. Many of us do not
speak Arabic and are not familiar with the division of the country, and there
was nothing in the process that would have allowed us to determine that.
Q And just as a follow-up, who are they are? I mean, are they lawyers, judges,
MS. PERELLI: You have lawyers, you have journalists, you have university
professors, you have human rights activists, activists in women's organizations.
Most of them come from -- all of them come from civil society, huge civil
society participation, but with no political record.
Thank you very much.