Allegations of Fraud as Iraq Election Results Trickle In

Article excerpt

Allegations of fraud swirled around ballot counting in Baghdad Thursday, as Iraq election results started to trickle in.

Allegations of fraud ricocheted around Iraq's vote counting as results from Sunday's parliamentary elections began to trickle in on Thursday.

Initial results from four of Iraq's 18 provinces showed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law coalition leading in the Shiite Arab majority south with former prime minister Iyad Allawi holding a lead in two areas north of Baghdad.

The results, though, were based on less than a third of the ballots counted in each of the provinces - in some cases fewer than 120,000 votes. The majority of observers believe the race will be too close to call without a significant number of votes being counted in Baghdad.

Close race between Maliki, Allawi

Preliminary results are expected to continue to trickle in over the next two to three days with final results, including ballots from out-of-country and military voting, certified by the end of March. But most projections show Maliki's largely Shiite coalition in a very close race with Allawi, a secular Shiite.

Maliki, who has ruled for most of the past four years, appeared to be making a strong showing in the south against the Shiite religious coalition he broke away from to form his own political bloc. The early results released by the Iraqi High Electoral Commission showed Maliki leading in the mainly Shiite provinces of Najaf and Babel south of Baghdad.

Allawi, with a broad coalition of mostly secular Shiites and Sunnis, has appealed to a large percentage of Iraqi voters disillusioned with religious parties who have been unable to deliver basic services or crack down on corruption. As of Thursday, Allawi's Iraqiya list was leading in Diyala, northeast of Baghdad, and the Sunni Arab dominated province of Salahaddin, which includes former dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. …