Iraq: Allawi fears recount fraud

2010-04-20 22:15

Baghdad - Former Iraqi premier Iyad Allawi, whose Iraqiya bloc narrowly won last month's general election, said on Tuesday he was concerned about possible irregularities during a recount ordered for Baghdad.

Iraqiya "supports the manual recount of ballots, but we are worried about practices that could accompany this exercise and which could lead to a change in the results that would benefit certain groups", he told a news conference.

Allawi beat Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki nationwide by securing 91 seats against the incumbent's 89, according to unofficial results.

In Baghdad, with 70 seats the largest prize in the 325-seat parliament, Allawi gained 24 seats to 26 for Maliki's State of Law bloc.

"Are there going to be any international observers to supervise this process," Allawi asked, adding the outcome of the March 7 election was "favourably welcomed" by the international community.

Although Maliki came out ahead in the capital, he alleged there had been manipulation in voting stations and that he had lost a total of 750 000 votes in five provinces, including Baghdad.

Under the constitution, the Iraqiya bloc, as the election's victors, was entitled to first crack at forming a government but has so far failed to do so.

Were Maliki, who has also struggled to win backing from other parties - including former allies in the Iraqi National Alliance, the country's largest religious political grouping - to gain seats he could yet come out ahead.