Europe’s Iraqis in Paris to register for elections

18th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 17 (AFP) - Iraqis living in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Switzerland have since Monday started heading to a school in Paris converted into a voter registration bureau to sign up for their country's January 30 elections.

PARIS, Jan 17 (AFP) - Iraqis living in France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Switzerland have since Monday started heading to a school in Paris converted into a voter registration bureau to sign up for their country's January 30 elections.

The 30 assessors in the bureau - all of them Iraqis, and a third of them women, trained by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) - told AFP the first day of the sign-up process went smoothly but slowly, with just a few dozen Iraqis turning up.

One of the assessors, Mohammad Sahib, an Iraqi who came to France in 1970, said: "People are happy. They are enthusiastic about being able to vote. There's not many people today, but it's only the first day, and there are a lot of Iraqis far off in the countryside."

Marion Wambergue, an official in charge, said that, while there were 8,000 Iraqis in France, more were expected to come from the neighbouring countries where no preparations had been made for absentee voting and no polling stations existed.

Registered voters would be able to cast their ballots January 28 to 30, she said.

Each prospective voter had to produce past or present documents proving they were Iraqi nationals, even if they had taken up another citizenship, or had the right to demand Iraqi nationality, notably through having an Iraqi father.

Wambergue said those conditions were imposed by the Independent Electoral Commission for Iraq.

An IOM official, Jerome Heitz, explained that each voter would be required to dip their finger in ink that would not wash off for four days as one precaution against fraud.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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