Under the Banner of a Safe Election, the IHEC Holds a Conference on Security

By Randa Jamal
A security plan is instrumental towards a credible electoral process that would allow citizens of any given country to visit polling stations to vote for their future leaders on Election Day. This notion is particularly significant for Iraq in light of the security situation, its constraints and difficulties the country might face during the period leading up to the election, in general, and on voting day, in particular. Under the banner of Towards a Safe and Credible Election, the Independent High Election Commission (IHEC) held a one day conference at Al-Rasheed Hotel on 23 January 2010. The objectives of the conference to discuss the security plan and the operational procedures were spelled out ahead of time by all the concerned parties.


Describing the conference, Mr. Mukaram Shakoor, Head of the Security Coordination Department and Secretary-General of the Elections Supreme Security Committee, said that this conference provided an opportunity to allow for coordination amongst all Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), which include the Ministries of Defense (MoD), Interior (MoI), National Security (NSM), and Iraqi Intelligence and Police.


Similarly Lt Gen Aiden K. Kader, Deputy of MoI, hailed the conference as successful for its wide participation that included the various units of the ISF. He also said that “the conference purely focused on security and not politics since the focus is to provide optimal security on Election Day.” The conference generated instructions that will be conveyed to the various units. For example, he said, the ISF are responsible for security and will not intervene in technical or administrative matters and no politician will be allowed to intervene in the security plan. His message was clear: “Our security plan will provide safe access to all voting stations and there are sufficient numbers of ISF from the MoD and the MoI to provide protection to all of them throughout the country”, he concluded.


As for Staff Mj Gen Abdulamir Rasheed, Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command, he viewed the conference as pivotal to dividing tasks and defining roles and responsibilities to ensure that citizens are protected on Election Day. Additionally, he noted, “I will represent the MoD and as a member of the Elections Supreme Security Committee will provide protection to citizens by providing instruction to teams while operating”.


On behalf of the United Nations, Security Advisor to the IHEC Robert Langridge elaborated on the essential role of the ISF in the success or failure of the election process and in shaping the environment for approximately 19 million Iraqis to vote and to have access to the estimated 50,000 polling stations. He also emphasized to the ISF how critical is protecting warehouses where some of the election material already lies. “This is absolutely critical to maintaining the integrity of the electoral process—no one except accredited IHEC staff should touch any sensitive election material and we count on you to make sure this is enforced”. Mr. Langridge also conveyed the UN wishes for a successful security plan under the leadership of Lt. Gen Aiden.


All parties to the conference agreed that it was a success and the objectives were met by having a clear direction for moving ahead with the security plan. Another, and final, conference is scheduled for 11 February 2010 to conclude the security plan and to address any gaps that may emerge between now and then.

Last modified on Sunday, 24 January 2010 03:00

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