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East Ingushetia province votes

Imperator Azenquor


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[u][b]VNN News: East Ingushetia Votes[/b][/u]

[i]“After several delays, the residents of East Ingushetia will finally have their chance to vote on the Autonomous Communities Act (ACA). The referendum will allow the people to decide if East Ingushetia will become an Autonomous Community within the Serene Republic of Vaule, or if it will once again become merely an oblast with little to no regional autonomy. Similar referendums were held and approved in Novaya Zemlya, Baikal, Yuktobania and Sakhalin earlier this year and paved the way for increased autonomy in those provinces.

In East Ingushetia however, the situation is much more complicated. The province is deeply divided between ethnic Vaulians and the ethnic Ingush, and the tension has resulted in sustained low intensity conflict between pro government and separatist forces in the province. The regions governor, Grigori Ourumov has been a lightning rod for criticism as a result of his staunchly anti-separatist stance and his controversial positions regarding Islam. Recently the Governor supported legislation to ban the wearing of the burqa and the niqab in public places and to ban several Islamic organizations. As a result of the headscarf ban, at least 972 women were arrested and charged for violating the ban.

Regional Governor Ourumov also faced criticism for his decision to extend the on-going state of emergency in the province for another three months in order to ‘combat the separatist menace’ in the province. Some Human Rights organizations believe that the prolonged state of emergency has allowed the East Ingushetian regional Police force to abuse certain powers in the name of combating separatism.

For the vote, the Islamic Women’s Committee (IWC) has urged women to write [b]‘Hijab is my RIGHT!’[/b] on their ballots to protest against the headscarf ban, and the East Ingush National Front (EINF) has urged its supporters to advocate for independence from Vaule by using their ballots to write in [b]‘INDEPENDENCE’[/b]. It is unclear at this time, what impact these two campaigns will have on the referendum as it is difficult to determine the level of support for the EINF and the IWC in the province.

Our election analysts have predicted that most ethnic Vaulians will likely be divided over the issue with some seeing autonomy as a step towards separatist demands and others seeing autonomy as the formula to weaken the Ingush separatist movement. Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the police will be on heightened alert to prevent violence during or after the polls.”[/i]-Reporter

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[b][u]VNN: Election results in; Some voters claim fraud[/b][/u]

[i]“After a delay of several days as the Vaulian Electoral Commission (VEC) counted and recounted paper ballots cast in East Ingushetia and announced the official results this morning. According to the VEC, with a turnout of 50.3% of eligible voters, 43% approved the creation of the East Ingushetia Autonomous Community (EIAC), while only 14% voted against the plan. The Commission also noted that a shocking 42.9% of ballots were rejected as spoilt. These ballots were marked either ‘INDEPENDENCE’ or ‘HIJAB IS MY RIGHT’. Accordingly these votes were immediately removed from the counting process and destroyed.

The voting process was not without controversy as 23 women were arrested for wearing either hijabs or niqabs while attempting to vote. According to reports, Election officers declared these individuals to be in breach of the law and informed the authorities. It is understood that Police officers made several requests for the women to remove their coverings. According to the Police, they refused to do so and were taken into custody. If they are found guilty, the women may face up to a B$50,000 fine and a minimum of 10 days imprisonment. The banned Islamic Women's Council (IWC) charged that the move to arrest the women constituted a violation of their right to vote and stated that the arrests were a part of 'government orchestrated election fraud'. The Committee also claimed that 'hundreds' of women were turned away while attempting to cast their votes because of 'their religion'. The Electoral Commission mounted an investigation, and rejected the claims as 'unfounded'.

The Electoral Commission also released a region by region breakdown of the turnout and the voter results. According to the results, voters in ethnic Vaulian areas of the province generally turned out in very low numbers, while their ethnic Ingush counterparts turned out in significantly higher numbers.

Voters were also asked to vote on a measure to recall controversial regional Governor Grigori Ourumov. According to the Electoral Commission, the turnout for the recall vote was approximately 56%. In a surprise defeat for Governor Ourumov, 71.43% of eligible voters approved his recall while approximately 28.6% voted against. With the approval of the recall motion, the Prime Minister will have to name a new governor after careful consultations with the Imperator. The new governor will, however, preside over the nation’s newest Autonomous Community and will have to contend with a stronger regional legislature as well as additional devolved powers.

Asked to comment on the results of his recall, a reflective Grigori Ourumov replied:
‘We simply failed to gather enough support to prevent the Islamic separatists from forcing me out of office. Nonetheless, I look upon my years as Governor positively and I have no regrets. I do not regret standing up for the rights of ethnic Vaulians in the province in the face of a growing threat from Islamic separatists. It seems that the separatists were successful in convincing misleading people to believe that my war on them was a war against Islam and not against separatists’

Asked about his political future, Mr. Ourumov stated that he would consider leading his political party in the legislative elections due in a few months.

At the news of Ourumov’s recall, a handful of his supporters started a brawl with opponents from a nearby Ingush area who were out celebrating the event. It is understood that the Police rapidly intervened and made arrests. In response to the recall, the police has also increased their presence in several communities which have usually been focal points of inter-ethnic violence. The police sought to caution residents that the additional security was strictly a preventative move.”[/i]-Reporter

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