Saddam Hussein surprised no one this week by winning more than 99.9 percent support in a referendum on continuing his rule. The referendum was a simple yes-or-no vote; no other candidates were offered. A massive “yes” campaign had dominated the country for weeks. Streets were festooned with banners, all the newspapers carried fawning stories, and even the telephone dial tone was replaced by a voice chanting “Yes, Saddam.” The voting was not secret, so most Iraqis performed their civic duty with a noisy show of enthusiasm, cheering as they voted yes. Some even marked the ballots with their own blood. The Iraqis gave out no information about any no votes; in the past, Saddam has been known to wipe out entire villages for harboring a single dissident.
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