Rival edges ahead of Iraq PM in overall vote count

Ex-PM Ayad Allawi's political alliance leading by 7,970 votes nationwide, according to a tally of 92% of the almost 12 million ballots cast.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
March 21, 2010 10:05
3 minute read.
Rival edges ahead of Iraq PM in overall vote count

Ayad Allawi 298.88. (photo credit: [file])

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

BAGHDAD — A secular challenger to Iraq's prime minister edged ahead Saturday in the overall vote count in parliamentary elections, while the prime minister held onto his province-by-province lead as the counting neared completion.

The March 7 elections will determine who will lead Iraq as American troops depart and the country is left to grapple with the sectarian divisions laid bare by the US-led invasion seven years ago.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's political alliance was leading by 7,970 votes nationwide, according to a tally of 92 percent of the almost 12 million ballots cast. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's coalition was leading in seven provinces compared with five for Allawi's bloc.

It was unclear whether Allawi's slim lead would hold or whether it would mean more parliament seats for his Iraqiya bloc. Under Iraq's election system, parliamentary seats are apportioned by how well coalitions do in each province, not by the overall vote count.

Allawi, who led the country from 2004 to 2005, has cast himself as the man who can bridge the country's sectarian divisions. His anti-Iran rhetoric has attracted a number of Sunni — and even Shi'ite — voters worried about the growing influence of their Shi'te-majority neighbor on Iraq's Shi'ite-led government.

Saturday's results mark the second time Allawi's Iraqiya coalition, made up of Sunni and Shi'ite candidates, has edged ahead of al-Maliki's State of Law coalition in the lengthy tallying of votes.

The results also included a fourth of the ballots cast by Iraqis living abroad, who are believed to back Allawi. Full preliminary results could come within days but final results could take weeks, pending appeals by political groups.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


The counting process has been dogged by allegations of fraud from both the Iraqiya list and al-Maliki's State of Law coalition.

"We have talked about these violations from the start and will continue talking about them — such violations as voters' names not being registered, stamped ballots found dumped on the streets," said Maysoun al-Damlouji, a spokeswoman for the Iraqiya bloc. "By God's will, we will be the winners."

Al-Maliki's State of Law alliance earlier this week accused the electoral commission's counting center of doctoring the numbers and demanded a re-count.

Commission's spokesman, Qassim al-Aboudi, said Saturday that votes from 63 polling stations had been annulled over irregularities. He said almost 2,000 complaints had been filed and that the commission has looked into more than half.

Allawi, a secular Shiite, has drawn on significant Sunni support in areas such as Diyala and Ninevah provinces to boost his election chances, while al-Maliki's coalition has fared well in the Shiite south and Baghdad, which accounts for almost a fifth of the seats in parliament.

The Iraqi National Alliance, a coalition of Shiite religious parties tied to Iran, is leading in three provinces in the southern Shiite heartland. The Kurdish Alliance, as expected, was ahead in the three provinces that make up the Kurdish autonomous region in the country's north.

With no single coalition expected to win an outright majority in parliament, the very tight vote heralds extended political negotiations to form a new government. Under Iraqi law, once the parliament is seated and elects a new president, he asks the bloc in parliament with the most seats to form a government.

There are concerns protracted negotiations over the makeup of the government could mean more turmoil for the country at a time when US troops are scheduled to draw down to 50,000 by the end of August, under the Obama administration's plan to remove all combat troops by then.

The March 7 vote was Iraq's second for a full-term parliament since the 2003 US invasion ousted Saddam Hussein. Iraqis, embroiled in the politics and hardship of their daily lives, paid little attention Friday to the war's seventh anniversary.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter looks down the road to Makhmur
September 21, 2018
A year after referendum, Kurds in Iraq face Iran and US powerbrokers

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN