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UN Rules Out Iraq Polls Rerun, Thousands Protest

A UN official ruled out on Friday, December 23, a rerun of Iraq's legislative polls as thousands of Iraqis took to the streets to demand the cancellation of the rigged election results.

UN Rules Out Iraq Polls Rerun, Thousands Protest

"I don't see anything that would necessitate a rerun," Craig Jenness, a UN adviser to the Iraqi Electoral Commission, told Reuters. "The decision on a rerun rests with the Electoral Commission but I'd be very surprised if there was one," he said.

His remarks came one day after thirty-five Iraqi groups, including Sunni Arabs and secular Shiites, rejected the initial results of the general polls and called for a new ballot. "We totally reject the results of these rigged elections and call for the cancellation of the early results announced by the Electoral Commission," they said in a joint statement.

The groups also pressed for an international probe into the rigging of the voting to elect the first-term 275-member legislature since the ouster of Saddam Hussein by US-led forces. They included the Sunni National Concord Front (NCF) and Iraqi Front for National Dialogue (IFND), former prime minister Iyad Allawi's Iraqi National List (INL) and the National Congress of by former minister and one-time Pentagon protégé Ahmed Chalabi.

Massive Protests

Thousands of Iraqis took to the streets in and around the capital Baghdad after the Friday prayers, calling for a new vote, reported Agence France Presse (AFP). "Yes to true representation in the parliament and no to falsified representation," read many of the banners carried in the demonstration.

"We call for the replacement of the electoral commission and new elections," said another banner, while a third urged Iran to "stand aside so that Baghdad could be free." The protest, called upon by the NCF, took place in the Yarmouk neighborhood in western Baghdad and the town of Sammara just north of the capital.

"The electoral commission sold Iraq to Iran for free, because it is run by people in the pay of Tehran, even if they pretend to be impartial or honest," said Sheikh Mahmoud al-Abbas, a NCF candidate. "Yes, yes to Islam, no, no, to sham democracy," shouted the demonstrators gathered in the center of the predominantly Sunni city.

On Wednesday, twenty-five Iraqi groups threatened to boycott the new parliament in protest at the fraud polls. They demanded intervention from the Arab League, United Nations and European Union to revise the election results. The Electoral Commission has rejected calls for a rerun of the vote, saying it was investigating more than 1,000 complaints of polling abuses.

The announced results indicate that the Shiite United Iraqi Alliance of Prime Minister Ibrahim Al-Jaafari may hold on to a slim parliamentary majority. The new parliament's first task will be to appoint a president and two vice presidents who will then have 15 days to name a prime minister. The premier will have 30 days to form a full-term, four-year cabinet with parliamentary approval.

Source: Ýslam Online

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