Wednesday, 16 October, 2002, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Saddam 'wins 100% of vote'
Iraqi officials say President Saddam Hussein has won 100% of the vote in a referendum on whether he should rule for another seven years.
There were 11,445,638 eligible voters - and everyone of them voted for the president, according to Izzat Ibrahim, Vice-Chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council.
Saddam Hussein was the only candidate.
Voters had been urged to show their support for the Iraqi leader in defiance of the demands for military action against him from the US and Britain.
During polling, many voters trampled American flags and some signed their ballot-papers in their own blood in a display of loyalty to their leader.
Before the vote, Washington dismissed the referendum as a farce after the last such vote gave the Iraqi leader 99.96 % of the vote.
"Obviously it's not a very serious day, not a very serious vote and nobody places any credibility on it," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said on Tuesday.
In London, the Foreign Office painted a stark picture of the "choice" facing the Iraqi voters:
"You can't have free elections when the electorate goes to the polls in the knowledge that they have only one candidate, that candidate routinely murders and tortures opponents of the regime and the penalty for slandering that sole candidate is to have one's tongue cut out."
Tuesday's 12-hour-long voting was technically a secret ballot but few people bothered with the curtained booths - if only because they feared a "no" vote could be traced back to them.
Polling stations were bedecked with posters of Saddam and biscuits and drinks were served as children put on shows of patriotic songs.
The BBC's Caroline Hawley, reporting from Baghdad, notes that despite the festive air during polling, the Iraqi regime is well aware that the Americans are determined not to allow Saddam to serve the new term he is assured.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell met British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw in Washington on Tuesday to discuss the continuing wrangle over a new United Nations resolution on Iraq's alleged remaining weapons of mass destruction.
Washington has threatened to take unilateral action against Saddam if the UN fails to find a solution.
The two ministers said that the weekend car bomb attack in Bali, Indonesia, would not distract them from their campaign against Iraq.
Doesn't sound good for Saddam.
We can nickname him "Landslide Joe" after his hero !!
I'll bet Gore is really jealous over this ....he was so sure the NOV 2000 results would read "America - Gore wins 100 Percent in election with 100 percent turnout - 274,000,000 say yes, 0 say no.
But, around this point, you can't help wondering, ''Why exactly does Saddam Hussein need a campaign song?'' According to the Times, at his last presidential election seven years ago, the old butcher got 99.89 percent of the votes. As the 0.11 percent foolish enough to write in Pat Buchanan have since been killed, you'd have thought Saddam would do even better this time. But who knows? Perhaps there's a Zogby poll with him plummeting to 99.83 percent. Perhaps Dick Morris has some internal numbers showing Iraqi soccer moms want more spending on education and less on anthrax.
So the guy's out there on the stump pressing the flesh. I mean, as opposed to the flesh he presses with the hot pokers down in the basement. His managers have come up with a snappy campaign slogan: ''Yes, Yes To Our Beloved Leader, Saddam Hussein.'' The agency had toyed with ''Four More Decades,'' ''I'm Pro-Saddam And I Vote,'' ''Guns Don't Kill People. Saddam Kills People,'' ''It's Mourning Again In Halabja,'' ''Ask Yourself Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Four Centuries Ago?'' and ''It's The Dictatorship, Stupid!''
I have to confess to a sneaking admiration for the old mass murderer. What's happening on Tuesday wouldn't pass the smell test in any functioning polity, even New Jersey. Voters will find one question on the ballot--''Do you agree that Saddam Hussein should remain president?"--and will have to tick either "Yes" or "No." They have to write their names on the ballot, and in case they're tempted to put ''John al-Smith'' or ''Jane bin Doe,'' they have to fill them out in the presence of ''officials.'' It's not the kind of election you really need a campaign song for.