Skip to comments.Iraqis all vote "yes" to Saddam in warning shot to Bush
Posted on 10/15/2002 5:18:58 PM PDT by HAL9000
BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqis voted massively, some with their blood, in a referendum which ushers in seven more years of President Saddam Hussein's rule and keeps Baghdad on a collision course with the United States.
"Turnout was absolute and the yes vote was absolute," the regime's number two Ezzat Ibrahim said.
"The people are voting unanimously for their leader," he told state television as the 1,905 voting centres closed around the country.
Ibrahim, head of the committee supervising the referendum, said the poll was "a unique experience in the world which foreigners cannot explain."
Non-Iraqis "cannot understand how a people, all of them, can vote unanimously for their leader," said Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolution Command Council.
"The democratic experience in Iraq is different from all others. It does not exist either in America or Vietnam to take as examples two countries with antagonistic political systems," he said.
In Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed the presidential referendum.
"Not a very serious vote," Fleischer said. "No one places any credibility on it."
The president garnered 99.96 percent of the vote in the country's first referendum in 1995. Just 3,052 no votes were registered out of a total of more than eight million.
The ruling Baath Party had targeted a 100 percent "yes" vote this time for Saddam and created a party mood in defiance of US plans to topple the regime.
"By voting I've fired my gun at the head of Bush and his gang," said 67-year-old Abdul Majid Janabi, referring to the US president.
Counting the votes
He like many others had queued since dawn at voting centre number 13 in Baghdad's second constituency.
Everyone declared they would vote for Saddam and one ballot box even had his photo stuck on it.
"It's a yes vote. If you want to say no, you stay home," one young man told AFP at a centre in Saddam City, a poor Shiite area where a US flag had been laid out in front of the boxes, obliging voters to trample it.
A young woman voted with her blood after filling a syringe from her arm.
Others followed her example, chanting: "With our soul, with our blood we will sacrifice ourselves for you, Saddam."
In the northern city of Tikrit, near where Saddam was born 65 years ago, people pricked their fingers to vote in blood.
Voter after voter did the same at the village of Alem, just to the north, where a full-scale party was under way, an AFP reporter saw.
Blood votes are counted apart to allow the authorities to "compensate" the people, said a returning officer.
"We are here to say yes to Saddam but above all to send a huge no to George W. Bush," said 26-year-old Iman Faraj in Tikrit, urging the message to be spread around the world.
The vote was officially secret but no one seemed bothered to go into the curtained booths, preferring to vote in open public areas.
Although Tuesday was not a holiday, a party atmosphere engulfed the capital as it did Tikrit.
Singing and dancing was encouraged across the country, coffee was served, and state television broadcast popular music all day long, spliced with interviews and scenes from the polling stations.
Some voters paraded round holding up the voting slips showing the "Naam" or "Yes" for Saddam.
At a polling centre in the modest Salihiya quarter of Baghdad, local Baath Party official Talal Ismael pointed to three private booths in the corner and said proudly: "No one has used them in three hours.
"The people are solidly behind their president as you can see."
Saddam even managed to telephone all Iraqis on Tuesday as they went to vote.
Anyone picking up their telephone found the dialling tone had been replaced by the "Naam, naam Saddam" campaign slogan, followed by "All Iraq sings: 'Saddam is the pride of my country'".
The Iraqi Communication and Post Co. introduced the new dialling tone on Monday. It was due to return to normal after the festivities.
Voting centres shut at 8:00 pm (1700 GMT), 12 hours after they opened for the 11.5 million Iraqis eligible to vote in 15 provinces.
State television showed the start of counting in Baghdad to loud cheers from spectators.
Official results were expected during the night for the referendum in which Saddam was the sole candidate.
An Iraqi official shows a "yes" marked with blood on a ballot at a polling station in Baghdad's Saddam City neighborhood, as Iraqis voted in a referendum for which Iraq's 65-year-old President Saddam Hussein is the sole candidate for seven more years in office
© AFP Patrick Baz
Those who did not support the regime in the past elections also voted "in blood"
Well, won't someone palease...knock me over with a feather?!
The bloody tyrant wins. WHAT a surprise!
What's so hard to understand. Vote aye or die.
They can't. Not ever. If a population of several million votes 99.96% to 0.04% on anything, it's rigged. Period. End of story.
AFP is a joke.
Rock on Saheeb! You may be giving more than that soon enough.
Wow, What a great new product line for 3M - inventors of Post-its.
Peel off a Vote-it, place it over the "no" box, and place your ballot in a rack, like those used at Hallmark Cards.
Place all the voters in a circle at the center of the polling place, allow a "Daisy Cutter to drop on by to place the final vote, amongst the voters.
Guaranteed 100% vote, in blood, for Saddam!
Campaign Odyssey in Baghdad
"Whew! We dodged a bullet," a senior aid to president Saddam Hussein confided to me last night, relieved as election returns, which began pouring in at sundown, showed the Iraqi leader had handily won another 7-year mandate.
He meant 'bullet' literally.
"Not that we expected a cliff-hanger," he quickly added. "Iraq is no Florida", he said, smiling ear-to-ear. "We knew he'd trounce that old tired goat." The aid was referring to Boublous al-Dole, nominee of the hapless opposition party. (A plane carrying all 10 members mysteriously disappeared tonight. No foul play is suspected, despite a hundred witnesses who swear seeing heat-seeking missiles flying towards the plane as it cruised over downtown Baghdad. Iraq Aviation Administrator, Fakih Frank Hull Hussein, dismisses the witnesses as Great Satan Conspirators.)
And what a campaign season it's been. "This one's for the history books," crowed a jubilant staffer, firing several shots in the air in celebration. He recounted the story of how, back in February, president Hussein ordered mortar fire and tank attacks on some fledgling all-news TV station in Basra. "I guess you can say it was the opening salvo of Campaign 2002," the aid fondly recalled.
But the assault wasn't just for fun, either. Hussein strongly suspected the outlet, founded by some right-winger named Abdul-Roger al-Ailes, was working for the opposition.
"Our President hated that station with a passion," one senior aid recalled. "He called it Faux News, mockingly. There was this host who would come on weeknights at 8, griping about all the charity money being siphoned off for nukes and presidential palaces. He really hated that guy." That's Bill al-Din O'Reilly, erstwhile host of what was the highest rated show on prime-time. As punishment for spreading infidel propaganda, he got 30 years in a re-education camp. As part of his sentence, al-Din O'Reilly was ordered to read First Lady Sajida!'s, 'It Takes an A-Bomb To Raze a Village', a runaway best-seller. Her book, in fact, has straddled atop the Anthrax Times best-seller list since its publication 15 years ago, easily outselling No. 2, "Between Smoking Dope And History," by Bill Clinton.
"To President Hussein, all cowards and traitors are beneath contempt," intoned a senior aid. "He has zero-tolerance for 'em. Except for Bill Clinton. Now that's a coward and a traitor our president can live with. Our dear leader has nothing but admiration for Clinton."
No qualms that Monica was Jewish?
Shrugging his shoulders, he sighed, "well, nobody's perfect."
As for the campaign, "there were bumps along the road," said one aid, "don't get me wrong. It wasn't all smooth sailing."
For campaign staffers, the biggest scare came on the closing night of the Baath Party National Convention in Baghdad. A major sex scandal had broke, involving Saddam's senior political strategist, Duqaq Dick Musa Morris. Hussein, forced to par his acceptance speech down to 12 hours, saw his approval ratings take a tumble, plunging down to 99.9%.
"Thanks to that moron, I never got my convention 'bounce!!'," yelled an angry Hussein that night.
"But we didn't flinch," said a staffer, "no-one hit the panic button, despite those tense days."
"Our dear leader, scrappy survivor that he is, stayed focused -- like a laser beam. As punishment, Saddam ordered a sex change for Duqaq Morris, his wayward advisor."
I asked him what Morris was doing for a living now.
"Well, after his sex change, he looked so much like Helen Thomas, he now subs for her in the White House press room."
So, where's Helen, then?
"I was told she went to Pakistan, to enroll in the Madrassas. She mumbled something about wanting to understand 'why they hate us so much', 'to feel the hate', or something like that," he said.
"After graduation, then come the big plans."
"Yeah, she plans to marry Yasser Arafat. Rumor has it his marriage is on the rocks."
Oh, speaking of which, there were two other scarey moments.
Tonight, as official election returns rolled him, some exit polls in the south were showing lower-than-expected returns, some a disappointingly low 99.6%. Oh no, not another Florida. cliff-hanger.
Then, magically, the big board numbers roar back up to 100%.
"You'd be amazed at what a few bullets, parked in the right places, can do," remarked a senior official in the Republican Guard.
I poked my head out the window of my Baghdad hotel, and lo and behold, you could feel the jubilation, the festivity. The victory rallies were huge, the air filled with chants of, 'We love Saddam -- and Hitler, too! Down with the Jews! Up with the Waffen-SS!'
Close your eyes, and you swear you're in Berkley.
The difference here, of course, are all the Soviet tanks lovingly aimed at the "festive" crowd. The place was ringed with military -- everywhere.
"No big deal, just crowd control, that's all that is" one senior Iraqi official insisted. "Everyone here is free to speak his or her mind -- so long as Saddam approves."
Curious, I decided to work my way into the crowd, mixing things up a bit.
One reveler caught my attention. "I love Saddam! I love Saddam! Down with Bush! Up with Daschle and the Democrats!', she screamed.
hmmm...a typical Boston voter, I thought.
I asked her why she loves Saddam so much.
"I'm here because Bush is threatening my job, my livelihood!"
I asked what she did for a living.
"I do nuclear weapons research at a Baby Milk Factory," she told me proudly. "I used to do Anthrax, but Saddam promoted me to nukes. That's why I hate Bush -- he's threatening to diss our doomsday weapons! That means I'll be out of a job!"
Oh, I see.
The other scarey moment, you ask?
Earlier, as we were watching election returns at the presidential palace, suddenly vice president Ramadan bursts into the room, "I have a cheerful announcement: Saddam had just received a call from the U.S. president!", he shouted.
"Yes! President Jimmy Carter called to congratulate Saddam for his victory!"
My two cents...
Sure wish I had the kind of guts that 3052 Iraqis had. Late Iraqis, that is.
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