A new United Nations-supported blog site just launched in Baghdad is the latest initiative to engage voters in the nascent democracy and motivate them to go to the polls on 31 January 2009 during the country’s provincial elections.
The blog, called “Vote for Iraq” can be found on http://voteiraq.maktoobblog.com and was launched with the support of the UN-led International Election Assistance Team (IEAT).
The site encourages users to use several formats – including photos – to express their views and enables links with other websites and online forums.
“The IEAT has supported the development of this blog in recognition of the tremendous importance and potential of cyberspace to open up political discussion to everyone,” said the Chief Technical Advisor of the IEAT, Sandra Mitchell.
“If you look at elections around the world you’ll realise that websites and blogs are critical spaces for engaging constructively with the ‘spin’ of official campaigns,” she added.
The site has an editorial policy and is not moderated by any official institution or the UN, according to an elections update issued by the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).
The UN-led IEAT is working with Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) to ensure that electoral events are managed according to international best practices of transparency and accountability.
The UN is assisting the IHEC, which is responsible for preparing and conducting elections – beginning with the provincial polls slated for 31 January and culminating with parliamentary elections in 2009-2010.
Other election-related projects organized by the IEAT include a nationwide Election Coverage Network launched in October that aims to provide citizens with timely, fair and balanced information and reporting on the provincial elections.