BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ More than 20,000 Iraqis offered gifts to Saddam Hussein Monday on the second anniversary of a referendum, which he claims endorsed his rule by a 99.96 percent vote.

Throngs of Iraqis lined up at the Leader of Victory's Museum to deposit their gifts, the official Iraqi News Agency reported.

It quoted museum director Walid Khalid Hammadi as saying that 15,000 packages were delivered to the museum, while 5,000 more were sent through the ruling Baath Party's offices around the country.

The Oct. 16, 1995 referendum asked Iraqis to simply say ``yes'' or ``no'' to keeping Saddam _ who has been in power since 1979 without ever facing a general election _ as president for another seven years.

His victory was considered a foregone conclusion and Washington dismissed the balloting as a sham.

Saddam's government said he won the approval of 99.96 voters. That would mean that less than 9,000 people out of the 8,357,560 to cast ballots voted against him.