Maliki's bloc demands Iraq vote recount, claims fraud

Maliki supporters complained of vote fraud after new but incomplete results showed their candidate trailing challenger Iyad Allawi.

Maliki's bloc demands Iraq vote recount, claims fraud

Supporters of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki complained of vote fraud on Wednesday after new but incomplete results from a March 7 election showed their candidate trailing challenger Iyad Allawi.

An ally of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki also demanded a nationwide recount.

Ali al-Adeeb's remarks came as the race between Maliki's State of Law Alliance and the Iraqiya bloc of his main rival, secular ex-premier Iyad Allawi, tightened dramatically, with less than 9,000 votes separating the two nationwide.

"There has been clear manipulation inside the election commission in the interests of a certain or a specific list," said Adeeb, a candidate for State of Law in the predominantly Shiite southern province of Karbala.

"State of Law demands the counting process be repeated to be sure that there has been no manipulation."

Adeeb described Iraqiya's progress as "like a miracle".

"Kirkuk result"

Allawi's cross-sectarian Iraqiya list is leading in five provinces, and his nationwide edge is only 9,000 votes. Trailing the front runners are the Shi'ite Iraqi National Alliance (INA) and Kurdish parties which dominate Iraq's Kurdish north.

It is too early to say who Iraq's next coalition government will include, and the weeks or months of charged negotiations ahead may become even more fraught if, as the close race suggests, the results are challenged by those who lose out.

"Only when a recount and review is completed can we decide if IHEC's tally of our votes is accurate or not," Adeeb said.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) said the count was fair and included multiple checks against fraud.

"The most recent preliminary results show a close race between major lists. That explains their fears and misgivings," said Karim al-Tamimi, an IHEC commissioner.

IHEC, along with U.N. officials advising them, have downplayed allegations of fraud, which until now had mainly come from Allawi's camp. Almost 2,000 complaints have been logged, fewer than in Iraq's provincial polls in January 2009.

"Systemic fraud is virtually impossible," a western official said on condition of anonymity, suggesting the sheer complexity of Iraq's new voting system was itself an obstacle to fraud.

In Kirkuk, the disputed province that is Iraq's northern oil hub, Allawi holds the thinnest of leads over a bloc of Kurdish parties that want to fold Kirkuk into their semi-autonomous enclave.

But the picture in Kirkuk, like the rest of Iraq, could change. IHEC has yet to announce vote tallies for Iraqis living abroad and from 'special' voting that included soldiers, police, prison inmates and hospital patients and staff.

About 6,200 candidates from more than 80 political entities were on the ballot for seats in parliament.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 17 Mart 2010, 15:59