News On Iran & Its NeighboursIraq120,000 Iraqi expatriates can vote in Iran but Shiite...

120,000 Iraqi expatriates can vote in Iran but Shiite party complains

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AFP: About 120,000 Iraqis living in neighboring Iran can participate in landmark national elections this month, UN officials said Tuesday, but the main Iraqi Shiite party criticized restrictions imposed on voters. About 70 voting stations will be set up in six large cities including Tehran, poll organizer Kate Pryce told a press conference, with registration scheduled for January 17 to 23 and voting from January 28 to 30. AFP

TEHRAN – About 120,000 Iraqis living in neighboring Iran can participate in landmark national elections this month, UN officials said Tuesday, but the main Iraqi Shiite party criticized restrictions imposed on voters.

About 70 voting stations will be set up in six large cities including Tehran, poll organizer Kate Pryce told a press conference, with registration scheduled for January 17 to 23 and voting from January 28 to 30.

“Each voter must present two identifications, one of which must carry a photo,” Pryce said.

The UN’s International Organization for Migration is in charge of the polls for Iraqis living in 13 foreign countries, most of them in Iran.

However, Mohsen Hakim, a top member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) criticized the restrictions imposed on the Iraqi voters in Iran.

“Contrary to the other 12 countries, Iraqis in Iran have to present an Iraqi ID card while in other countries it is enough to show an ID that simply indicates the person was born in Iraq,” Hakim told the state news agency IRNA.

He also criticized the lack of polling stations in the cities of Isphahan, Shiraz, Yazd and the western province of Ilam “where many Iraqis live”.

“About 40,000 Iraqis live in Isphahan while no polls have been considered there.” he added.

The head of SCIRI in Iraq, Abdol Aziz Hakim, tops the Shiite list in the January 30 elections.

Politically supported by Iran, SCIRI was created in early 1980s and based in Iran, where its leaders as well as numerous militants live.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Sunday he was opposed to any postponement of Iraq elections, arguing that a delay could worsen the security situation there.

Khatami said he wanted to see “a government come to office and prepare the ground for the exit of occupation forces”, as well as “cooperation between all regional and world countries to reconstruct Iraq.”

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