Iraq Sunni group accuses tribes of poll incitement

Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab political party accused tribal groups of inciting violence after the tribes threatened to take up arms.

Iraq Sunni group accuses tribes of poll incitement

Iraq's biggest Sunni Arab political party on Tuesday accused tribal groups of inciting violence after the tribes threatened to take up arms because of perceived voter fraud in the west of the country.

Iraq held provincial elections on Saturday without a major attack, the most peaceful vote since US toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003. But tension has emerged in Anbar, where many Sunni Arabs boycotted the last provincial poll in 2005.

Tribal groups, who set up guard units known as Awakening Councils that drove out the fighters in 2006-07, contested the election in the hope of taking power from the Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP), which has run the province since 2005.

Awakening leaders in Anbar threatened armed action because of early tallies that showed the IIP in the lead, which they said was a result of fraud.

Omar Abdul-Sattar, an IIP member of parliament, said the threat amounted to "an insult to the voter's will".

"Suggesting the use of arms to change the tally and election results in Anbar and other provinces is unacceptable and totally rejected," he said. "It is uncivilised and illegal."

The province, once the most violent in Iraq and heartland of the Sunni Arab insurgency against U.S. forces, has become among the quietest parts of the country. Anbar was largely quiet on Tuesday after authorities imposed an overnight curfew.

On Sunday night IIP and Awakening supporters had fired rifles into the air for hours at rival victory celebrations in the regional capital Ramadi.

On Monday, Hamid al-Hais, head of the Anbar Tribes list in the election, told Reuters his followers would "set the streets of Ramadi ablaze if the Islamic Party is declared the winners of the election."

"We will make Anbar a grave for the Islamic Party and its agents. We will start a tribal war against them and those who cooperate with them," he said.

Official initial election results are not due for some days, and final results could take weeks. The electoral authorities say they are investigating all reports of fraud.

Reuters
Last Mod: 03 Şubat 2009, 15:47
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