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Recount Confirms Allawi Win in Iraq Election

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Recount Confirms Allawi Win in Iraq Election

Post  Shilo on Mon May 17, 2010 6:06 pm

(May 17) -- A bitter debate over the result of Iraq's March parliamentary election was tentatively resolved Sunday after a partial recount by the country's electoral commission confirmed the slim victory of a non-sectarian challenger to the Shiite incumbent, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The recount of more than 2.5 million ballot papers preserved the two-seat lead of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's alliance over the Shiite State of Law coalition, fronted by the current prime minister. Maliki's supporters had claimed that numerous cases of fraud undermined the vote and that a recount would reverse the results of up to 20 constituencies, making Maliki's coalition the clear winner.

But at a news conference on Sunday, a spokesman for the electoral commission said that a recount of two of Baghdad's most populous districts had not altered the election's original outcome. "The number of the seats are still the same and didn't change," Qassim al-Abboudi told reporters. "I hope that all political blocs are satisfied now that the electoral process was honest and all allegations of fraud and forgery were totally incorrect."

A spokesman for Maliki told the New York Times that he would "respect" the result of the recount and that he now wanted to "speed up the political process."

The announcement removes a key barrier preventing the formation of Iraq's new government. The country's highest court will now begin ratifying the results, allowing rival parties to open negotiations over who will be the next prime minister.

Yet despite Allawi's win at the ballot box, it now appears likely that incumbent Maliki will cling to power. In the past few weeks, he has formed an alliance with the Iraqi National Alliance -- a collection of Shiite religious groups -- to create the largest coalition in parliament. The new Shiite alliance is just four seats short of securing an overall majority in parliament, and will likely be allowed to name the next prime minister.

Allawi has said that his coalition, which won the most votes in March, should have the first opportunity to form a government. "I really don't know how it will end," he told the New York Times. "But what I know is that we are not going to accept that the will of the Iraqi people is going to be confiscated."
Some analysts worry that a protracted period of wrangling over the shape of the next government could add to instability in the country, as politicians will fail to take crucial security decisions. After the last parliamentary election in 2005, it took feuding parties five months to agree on a new prime minister and cabinet, and two years of sectarian warfare followed.


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