Official: No fraud found in Iraq’s parliamentary election, official results due Monday

By Mazin Yahya, AP
Friday, May 14, 2010

Official: No fraud found in Iraq’s election

BAGHDAD — A full recount of votes for Baghdad province from Iraq’s parliamentary elections showed no fraud or major irregularities and is unlikely to change the vote’s final results, the country’s election commission said Friday.

The original tally announced after the March 7 polls put secular and Sunni-backed candidate Ayad Allawi two seats ahead of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite coalition. Al-Maliki immediately challenged those results, alleging fraud and issued a flurry of appeals for recounts. Officials only granted him a recount for Baghdad, a key province that is home to nearly a quarter of the population.

There are 68 seats in Baghdad up for grabs in the new 325-seat parliament, and new vote tallies could easily have erased Allawi’s razor-thin lead. That would likely have enraged Iraq’s once-dominant Sunnis, who have felt politically marginalized since Saddam Hussein’s ouster in 2003.

“The recounting process and the re-tally process have proven the integrity and honesty of the electoral process,” Qassim al-Aboudi, an official with Iraq’s election commission, told a news conference Friday. “The percentage of mistakes was very, very low and less than expected and (the recount) proved that there was no fraud or forgery.”

Al-Aboudi said the official tally will be announced Monday.

The recount and other challenges to the results have delayed the seating of the new legislature and raised fears that the political uncertainty could lead to a surge in violence as U.S. troops prepare to leave Iraq.

On Friday, three suicide bombers blew themselves up at a sports field in a predominantly Shiite town in northern Iraq on Friday, killing at least 10 people and wounding another 120, police and hospital officials said.

The attack took place during a soccer game in the town of Tal Afar, located between the Syrian border and the volatile city of Mosul. Earlier Friday, al-Qaida in Iraq’s new leader said a fresh campaign of attacks was under way, fueling concerns that the insurgent group is trying to spark a new round of sectarian bloodshed like the one that brought Iraq to the brink of civil war in 2006 and 2007.

Iraq’s political factions have been wrestling for months over the results of the close-fought March vote, and little progress has been made toward forming a new government. The two main Shiite parties have formed an alliance and are now disputing the right of Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc, which won the most seats, to form the next government.

Iraq’s disaffected Sunni minority overwhelmingly backed Allawi’s Iraqiya list and it has been feared that a reversal of his victory could prompt many to lose faith in the political process and possibly take up arms against the government once more.

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