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Arabic, Kurdish speakers race to compile Iraq voter list in Geneva

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Date: 7 December 2004
Source: KDP

GENEVA, Dec 7 (AFP) - 16h18 - A team of Arabic and Kurdish speakers in Geneva are racing to compile a register of voters for Iraq's elections by December 31, but work was temporarily halted this week due to safety reasons, an official from a company involved in the task said on Tuesday.

The mammoth operation would resume on Wednesday after being suspended on Monday and Tuesday, said Charles Parisod, the regional director of Manpower, a temporary employment agency contracted to help draw up the register.

"We had to change our plans regarding safety," said Parisod, without explaining further, adding that: "We start (work) again tomorrow."

Amid escalating violence in Iraq, a huge exhibition centre in this Swiss city has become the unusual location for the compilation of the voter lists, which are vital to the success of the polls planned for January 30.

"We are on track," Parisod told AFP when asked if he thought that the 1,000-strong team hired by the US group would complete the task in time.

"But you have to realise that Iraq is a country at war, which of course means that there are things to sort out," he noted.

Iraq's electoral commission hired Manpower to recruit people with the right skills to correct names and dates in Arabic and Kurdish on a database of information about Iraqis who are eligible to vote.

Despite safety concerns and difficulties in acquiring permits, the agency managed to hire enough staff and is helping a group of companies oversee the compilation process in the exhibition centre, Palexpo, Parisod said.

"We had the support of the local authorities to make things happen regarding the safety aspects," he said.

The workers are split between two eight-hour shifts from 6:00 amuntil 10:00 pm as they race against the clock.

Some 200 people hired by Manpower were Swiss, another 200 had permanent residency in the country and the rest had temporary permits, said Parisod.

"They are from all possible Arabic countries," he added.

Asked why the register was not being compiled in Iraq, Parisod said: "I don't think Iraq is a very safe country these days to make such an operation."

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Created by keza
Last modified 2005-01-04 07:09 PM

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