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Rift emerges in Iraq electoral commission; UN won't monitor polls

[JURIST] Creating a political dustup just 10 days before the Iraq's first democratic elections, the spokesman and vice-president of the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq [official website; English version] refused to resign Thursday despite a board vote to eliminate his job in the name of transparency and the preservation of the board's credibility. Deposed spokesman Farid Ayar [January 13 2005 interview] lashed out at the move, decrying it as false and the product of individuals who "do not wish to see a happy end to the electoral process". The decision to scrap the position was confirmed by commission chairman Abdul Hussein al-Hindawi, whom Ayar accused of initiating the statement as a response to Ayar's suggestion of a rotating presidency. AFP has more.

In other Iraq election news, UN officials warned on Thursday that the UN itself cannot officially monitor the polls because it played a part in setting up the elections. Some officials are concerned that monitoring problems could undermine the credibility of the election results and worsen fears of voter intimidation. No other international body has offered to dispatch monitors; a Canadian-based group of election experts called the International Mission for Iraqi Elections was set up {Elections Canada press release] after an international conference in Ottawa in December and will send representatives to Jordan and to Baghdad's Green Zone, but insists it is not a comprehensive monitoring mission. The Financial Times has more.

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