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Iraq starts ballot recount amid doubts

3 May 2010 13:15

Iraq has started a manual recount of votes cast in Baghdad during the March 7 parliamentary elections amid reports of irregularities in the process there.

The Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) began the recount of 2.5 million ballots cast in Baghdad, election commissioner Qasim al-Aboudi said on Monday.

The IHEC is recounting ballots cast at 11,000 polling stations in the capital at a rate of 800 to 1,000 stations a day, Reuters reported. The recount could take could take between 11 and 12 days.

Meanwhile, incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s State of Law coalition, which holds more than a fifth of the seats in parliament, filed a complaint against the recount process.

“We do not believe what is going on today is accurate work,” said Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani, a member of Maliki’s coalition who was appointed by the prime minister to oversee the recount for his bloc.

“The IHEC is insisting on not letting the results reflect the Iraqi voters’ will,” he asserted.

A review panel ordered the manual recount after a complaint from the prime minister’s bloc alleged fraud in the initial tally of ballots in Baghdad.

The official results gave former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc a slim 2-seat advantage over Maliki’s bloc in the 325-member parliament.

Both blocs fell well short of the 163 seats needed to form a government.

Allawi has warned that a major change in the results could increase violence in the country.

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