Iraqi Democracy Works! 100% vote for Saddam Hussein
Who says Iraqi's don't have democracy?
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Saddam Hussein won another seven-year term as Iraq's president in a referendum in which he was the sole candidate, taking 100 percent of the vote, the Iraqi leader's right-hand man announced Wednesday.
All 11,445,638 of the eligible voters cast ballots, said Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council that is Iraq's key decision-making body.
"This is a unique manifestation of democracy which is superior to all other forms of democracies even in these countries which are besieging Iraq and trying to suffocate it," Ibrahim said at a news conference in Baghdad, apparently referring to the United States.
The White House had dismissed the one-man race in advance, and the results seemed to bear out the criticism. To get a vote total at all -- let alone a 100 percent "yes" vote -- Iraqi officials would have had to gather and count millions of paper ballots, some from remote areas far from Baghdad.
"Obviously, it's not a very serious day, not a very serious vote and nobody places any credibility on it," press secretary Ari Fleischer said in Washington on Tuesday as ballots were being cast in Iraq.
Parliament members were expected to go to Saddam sometime Wednesday to administer the oath of office for the new term.
Iraqis in Baghdad could be heard firing in the air in celebration after Ibrahim's announcement of the results in Parliament. The government already had declared the day a national holiday, even before the results.
Clusters of men took to the streets, dancing, at the news. Nabir Khaled Yusef, a van driver, and one of them: "My feeling is of happiness. This referendum and the 100 percent shows that all Iraqis are ready to defend their country and leader."
Mahmoud Amin, a retired civil servant, echoed the idea.
"This is a great day to celebrate," he said. "We are not surprised with the 100 percent vote for the president, because all Iraqis are steadfast to their president, who has been known to them for 30 years."
On Tuesday, it was apparent that the vote was different from what most people know in democratic societies. Some voters stuffed bunches of ballots into boxes, saying they represented the votes of their entire families.
Ibrahim defended the 100 percent figure when asked by reporters whether such a percentage wasn't absurd.
"Someone who does not know the Iraqi people, he will not believe this percentage, but it is real. Whether it looks that way to someone or not," he said. "We don't have opposition in Iraq. They are situated in northern Iraq. Inside Iraq, there is no opposition.
A poll among Kurds in northern Iraq -- who are not under Saddam's control -- bore out Ibrahim's statement on the opposition.
The poll conducted by the Iraqi Institute for Democracy showed 94.5 percent of Iraqi Kurds questioned said they would not vote for Saddam.
The institute, which is based in the northern Kurdish enclave and calls itself a nonprofit group promoting democracy, said said about 3,000 Kurds were questioned Tuesday as Iraqis went to the polls in the referendum.
The poll was published Wednesday by the London-based Al Hayat daily, which reported only 64 Kurds said they would vote for Saddam while 129 said they were undecided.
In the last referendum in 1995, Saddam got 99.96 percent of the vote -- according to the official Iraqi results -- and officials had said they expected him to top that figure.
"This is a day of pride, honor and dignity as Iraqis express their free will to say "yes" to the pinnacle of their glory and loftiness," Ibrahim said, referring to Saddam.
The vote was widely advertised not only as backing for Saddam but as a rebuke to the United States, which has been pressing in the United Nations Security Council for a resolution that would allow a war to topple Saddam.
Ibrahim referred to the United States as the "forces of injustice and illusion," and called Iraq the land of "civilization and creativity."
Saddam, 65, became president in 1979 in a well-orchestrated transfer of power within his Baath Party.
Iraq has been under U.N. Security Council sanctions since invading Kuwait in 1990. U.N. resolutions require the country to destroy all its weapons of mass destruction, but it is widely believed to retain chemical and biological weapons, and the United States has accused it of trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The United States wants a new Security Council resolution that would give U.N. weapons inspectors wide powers to uncover Iraq's arms and to trigger a war on Iraq if it resists full inspections.
France has led a campaign in the Security Council to drop from the resolution the idea of an automatic trigger for war.
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