Israeli's chance for Iraq election vote scuppered

An Iraqi-born Jewish pensioner was left disappointed after he was unable to vote as an expatriate in the country's general election last weekend.

David Sasson wanted to cast his vote in Wembley, north west London, but his hopes were dashed despite twice queuing for more than five hours.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi expats took part in the election, voting over three days at polling stations in 60 cities worldwide.

But on Sunday, Metropolitan police arrested eight people after "spontaneous disorder" broke out when people were told they could not vote due to the volume of people at the centre.

Mr Sasson, 79, was born in Iraq but escaped to Iran in the 1950s. He moved to Britain in the 1970s.

He said: "I went on both Saturday and Sunday and I waited for five to six hours and I couldn't get in.

"There were thousands of people who could not vote. The Iraqi government made a lot of trouble by opening just one centre in London. There should have been more.

"I had my Iraqi documents with me, including my birth certificate. I was disappointed not to vote as the election is important for the whole of the Middle East. A pro-Iran government would be a lot of trouble."

Other polling stations were set up in Birmingham and Manchester.

Preliminary results from the poll were expected to be announced before the end of the week, with none of the political blocs expected to secure a decisive victory.

Ivan Lewis, the Foreign Office Middle East minister, said: "These elections are crucial for consolidating the many gains that have been achieved recently. Iraqis living abroad have an important contribution to make to the democratic process."

    Last updated: 3:38pm, March 11 2010